The journalist investigations looking into whether the Cambiemos coalition laundered money for the 2017 midterm elections through fake contributions made by oblivious citizens – many of whom were social welfare recipients – continues adding evidence. This weekend, journalists from El Destape and Perfil published respectively alleging that a national deputy from the PRO offered activists public sector jobs in exchange for 10 percent of their salaries, and that the party laundered more campaign money through middle-class citizens.
Let’s take a look at them separately.
The first one is the latest development of an ongoing investigation initially uncovered in June by El Destape journalist Juan Ignacio Amorín. On Sunday, Amorín published another set of audio recordings incriminating Tierra del Fuego National Deputy Gastón Roma.
Last week’s tapes indicated that Roma contributed to Cambiemos’ forging of invoices to cover-up a large scale money laundering operation. This time, the deputy was secretly recorded by young activist Harán Lamoretti in a restaurant, not only openly admitting to forging signatures, but also to giving people positions in the government in exchange for money.
“That is why [Council Member] Tomás [Bertolo] is putting up a group and asking them for their tithing and keeping it for the campaign,” the person in the audio says.
In the past, Roma has been criticized by his colleagues for doing just this: bribing his way into his seat as a national deputy. In the latest recording, he clarified his feeling on this issue by saying, “to me, the party is worth shit.”
In defense of his actions, Roma told Lamoretti, “before, I too was weak and didn’t know how politics worked. It’s not good or bad, it’s just the way it works.”
In regards to the second piece, Perfil journalist Emilia Delfino reported that the party reached beyond social welfare recipients and used middle-class names to donate larger amounts of money without raising suspicion. Investigators are still not confident about how the party got the names of these middle-class workers.
Throughout last week, Judge Ernesto Kreplak heard testimony from five alleged victims in a new set of forged contributions from the middle-class to the Cambiemos party in the 2017 midterm elections. These five testimonies came from a group of 24 people who allegedly all made bank deposits of between AR $20,000 and AR $25,000 pesos at the National Bank in Recoleta on October 4, 2017 between 1 pm and 3 pm. However, none of the people interviewed so far have any memory of making these donations, let alone have the resources to give away that much money.