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Judge Bonadio Summons Cristina to Testify Again

The Government has also increased the reward for information useful to the case.

By | [email protected] | August 30, 2018 2:20pm

Julio de Vido. (Photo via David Fernández/Clarín).

Look who’s piped up again. As the Argentine peso continues its spectacular collapse against the dollar, being less valuable that the Uruguayan peso for the first time in history, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has made it all about her.

The former President is currently embroiled in the so-called “Notebooks Scandal,” which has seen her residences raided by investigators and thousands march on Congress to demand that she be stripped of her parliamentary immunity. As she has been doing recently, she has once more claimed that the reason she’s being investigated is to distract from Argentina’s economic turmoil.

In a tweet sent last night, Senator Kirchner wrote: “The dollar is on the point of reaching 35 pesos and [Judge Claudio] Bonadio calls me to testify again for the same case as the raids. They are textbook. #ArgentinaWithoutRuleofLaw

This tweet fits into Senator Kirchner’s long-established dialogue that she is victim of a smear campaign led by her political enemies. Senator Kirchner and her supporters have long held that the six (yes, six) corruption cases that the Kirchner family are implicated in are a) a form of political persecution not unlike that experienced by political enemies of Argentina’s last military dictatorship, and b) a way for the government to disguise how terribly they’re doing by making her Enemigo del Estado #1.

She previously expressed her distaste for the legal proceedings against her in a speech in Congress, where in addition to comparing herself to the victims of the Junta’s ‘death flights,’ she announced that the case was part of a media conspiracy to remove her from politics and that Judge Bonadio was merely a pupped in a pancontinental scheme to incarcerate the popular, left-leaning leaders of Latin America’ s Pink Tide. Now, she argues, the Government and Judge Bonadio are bringing proceedings against her for the sole reason of distracting Argentina’s populace from the peso’s hyper devaluation and the failings of their economic policy.

(Photo via El País).

In recent days, Kirchner’s clashes with Judge Bonadio have been on the increase. Firstly, in the wake of investigators’ raids on her properties, in which they found a hidden safe containing USBs and folders full of intelligence on Kirchner’s political allies and foes, Kirchner reported a “toxic substance” in her home which allegedly made several of her staff ill.

Then, she took to Twitter to complain that investigators had seized presidential staffs and sashes belonging to herself and her late husband, former President Néstor Kirchner. “I just found out that among the objects that Bonadio ordered be seized from my house in El Calafate were the presidential sashes and staffs belonging to both myself and Néstor. The violation of rights is unlimited. #ArgentinaWithoutRuleofLaw,” she wrote. Bonadio has since returned the items to the Kirchner family.

Yesterday’s tweet came shortly after Judge Bonadio called her to testify again as part of the inquiry into the case, which involves notebooks detailing alleged bribes from business leaders to high-ranking public officials in exchange for public works projects. Senator Kirchner will have to present herself before him on September 3rd.

The Judge also summoned various other high-ranking public officials and business leaders, including former Planning Minister Julio de Vido, businessman Sergio Szpolski and the former Managing Directors of La Cámpora, Eduardo “Wado” De Pedro, Andrés “Cuervo” Larroque and José Ottavis.

Julio de Vido. (Photo via David Fernández/Clarín).

In the resolution, Bonadio adds that the period of time being investigated will be longer than previously anticipated. “Various businesspeople have expressly stated that the system of the illegal collection of payments driven by public officials from the Ministry of Federal Planning began some time between 2003 and 2004,” he said. “The time periods in the investigation must be extended from the year 2003 until December 9th 2015.”

Judge Bonadio has called these actors to inquiry just days after the Government announced that it would be increasing the financial reward for anyone providing figures and data that lead to the recovery of money, foreign currency or bonds related to the case. Resolution 707/2018, published by the Ministry of Security of the Nation, doubles the reward for useful information, bringing it from 5 to 10% of the sum found. The government is also offering an ARS $500,000 reward for anyone who can provide information on the whereabouts of architect Oscar Thomas, who is also implicated in the case.

The Permanent Compensation Fund was established by Law 26,538 and was created to pay out monetary rewards to people who, without having committed the crime itself, provide useful information to “obtain the freedom of the victim, preserve their physical integrity or secure the arrest of the guilty party.”

Patricia Bullrich. (Photo via Infobae).

Infobae reported that the decision to raise the reward had come from Minister of Security Patricia Bullrich, who convinced President Mauricio Macri to sign off on the incentive. “The intention is to return to the issue to recover the money from corruption, thereby giving an effective and symbolic symbol to society,” a government aid told Infobae.

This move is part of a wider initiative by the Ministry of Security to encourage people to divulge information useful to ongoing criminal proceedings. The Ministry recently established a telephone line, where members of the public can anonymously report crimes and provide information on ongoing cases. Infobae reported that 170 useful calls have been received, of whom 30 have been to the office of Public Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli to testify.

The ongoing Notebook Scandal has been cited by international analysts as one of the key factors influencing the peso’s demise, with the story even reaching the front cover of business publication  the Wall Street Journal. As investigations continue, the case may weigh heavy on investors’ minds as they evaluate Argentina’s national risk levels and could prolong Argentina’s economic woes.