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Testimonies Begin in Ongoing Corruption Scandal

Many of those implicated are expected to strike a plea deal.

By | [email protected] | August 2, 2018 11:59am

S1EkCEkSQ_930x525__1Roberto Barata is arrested early yesterday morning, via Clarín

The current, ongoing scandal that began yesterday after Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio ordered the detention of 18 people implicated in a massive corruption scheme that allegedly took place during the Néstor and Cristina Kirchner administrations continues today—with 13 people currently detained and five still unaccounted for.

The scandal began in March, after  journalists from La Nación Diego Cabot, Candela Ini, and Santiago Nasra, got ahold of eight notebooks that contained a detailed record of bribe payments from business leaders to public officials in exchange for lucrative public works projects between between 2008 and 2015.  

Today, all of the detained officials and businessmen were transferred to the Comodoro Py courts to begin testifying before federal Judge Claudio Bonadio.

All those detained, except for Gerardo Ferreyra—the owner of Electroingeniería, one of the companies that grew the most rapidly during the Kirchner administrations—remained silent during the transfer and did not speak to the media. From the courts, Ferreyra briefly told La Nación “this is a media show, I did not pay any bribes.”

Gerardo Ferreyra was arrested yesterday and transferred this morning to the Retiro tribunals, via La Nación/Ricardo Pristupluk

The first to be transferred to begin testimonies was Roberto Barrata, the former secretary of Coordination and Management in the Ministry of Planning, a little before 7 o’clock this morning. Barrata is at the center of the scandal, with millions in dirty money allegedly passing through his office. Barrata was the highest-profile official arrested yesterday.

Barrata arrives at the courts to testify, via La Nación/Ricardo Pristupluk

Meanwhile, it has been speculated that some of these officials and businessmen are strongly considering striking a plea deal, agreeing to plead guilty to certain charges and perhaps handing over lucrative information on their co-conspirators in return for a lighter sentence.

One of those detained who began testifying this morning after agreeing to a plea deal is Oscar Centeno, Barrata’s private chauffeur at the Federal Ministry of Planning. Centeno’s ex-wife had reported him for transporting multiple bags of laundered money with Baratta. In Centeno’s case, a plea deal would likely involve implicating Barrata. 

Oscar Centeno

A number of other detained officials and businessmen are likely to be freed from detention soon after agreeing to exuberantly high bonds valued at millions of pesos.

In addition to those who were arrested, the Justice ordered numerous officials and private citizens be brought in for questioning.

Among these are Senator and former President Cristina Kirchner—around whom this scandal revolves—and former Planning Minister Julio de Vido, who is currently currently in pre-trial arrest himself since last year for a separate corruption case. Barrata was de Vido’s right hand man, and it is speculated that many of Barrata’s alleged illegal activities were conducted under de Vido’s instruction and supervision.

Also called in for questioning was the ex-judge Norberto Oyarbide, who held a number of meetings with those implicated in the bribery scheme, as is detailed in the eight notebooks.  

The schedule for those who have been called in for questioning is as follows:

  • August 7th
    • Jorge Mayoral, former secretary of Mining
    • Javier Fernández, former head of the National Audit Office and judicial operator
    • Rudy Ulloa, former driver 
  • August 8th
    • Oscar Parrilli, former head of the Federal Intelligence Agency
    • Norberto Oyarbide, former federal judge 
  • August 9th
    • Néstor Otero, businessman
    • Juan Carlos Lascurain, businessman
    • José María Olazagasti, De Vido’s former secretary 
    • Juan Manuel Abal Medina, former chief of staff 
  • August 10th
    • Julio De Vido, former Minister of Federal Planning, currently detained in Marcos Paz for another investigation 
  • August 13th
    • Cristina Kirchner, current Senator and former president