Former head of Argentina’s Federal Planning Ministry Julio de Vido testified today before federal judge Claudio Bonadio in one of the greatest corruption scandals to ever break in Argentina.
The scandal revolves around the discovery of eight notebooks that meticulously record bribe payments from business leaders to public officials in exchange for lucrative public works projects between between 2008 and 2015, during the Néstor and Cristina Kirchner administrations. On August 1st, at least 18 people implicated in the corruption case were arrested.
During the time, the public works sector was under the control of De Vido and his right-hand man, Roberto Barrata. While De Vido wasn’t one of the 18 arrested, he, along with a number of other high-profile figures, was called in to testify before the judge in the ongoing case. He is also already currently in pre-trial arrest, since last year, for a seperate corruption case. Also called in to testify was Senator and former President Cristina Kirchner. She will be doing so three days after De Vido, on August 13th.
With the same fervor that he has used to reject past accusations of malpractice, De Vido emphatically denied today that he was the head of a widespread web of corruption within the public works sector in his testimony before judge Claudio Bonadio. He also emphatically rejected ever having handled or received “bags” of bribe money, which was one of the allegations leveled against him.
In the notebooks, however, De Vido is described as organizing all the alleged bribes, as well as managing their collection. These were later picked up by Barrata and his driver, Oscar Ceneno.
“I deny, in a total, categorical and absolute fashion, the accusations that are leveled against me,” De Vido stated today before the Justice, before requesting the “immediate” dismissal of the case before him.
The former official presented his testimony as a written statement to Judge Bonadio. In the statement, De Vido assured the judge that idea that he could have been the head of such a widespread, illicit web of corruption was “absolutely crazy.” In the same letter, which was fifteen pages long, De Vido also denied having received any bribes, either in “bags, sacks, envelopes, or boxes” of cash. “I deny having benefited from illegal funds,” he added again, to make sure his point was clear.
Throughout the entirety of the written statement, the former Minister did not mention Roberto Barrata once, his right-hand man and the highest-profile official arrested on August 1st. It was Barrata’s driver, Oscar Centeno, who wrote the notebooks in the first place. He also failed to mention Cristina Kirchner.
De Vido, who testified before Bonadio a little after 9:30 AM, had been transferred to the Comodoro Py courts early this morning from Marcos Paz prison. Upon his arrival to the courts, he delivered the letter to the judge and refused to answer any questions. The Federal Penitentiary Service transferred him back to Marcos Paz earlier this afternoon, swiftly and without notifying journalists beforehand.