The “notebooks of corruption” case continues to provide explosive headlines by the hour, as several suspects are deciding to admit to committing the illegal activities described by former driver Oscar Centeno.
Today, however, was a particularly intense day in the federal courthouses of Comodoro Py, with three headline-grabbing events. First, former Cabinet Chief during a period of the second Cristina Kirchner administration, Juan Manuel Abal Medina, admitted to having received under-the-table money in bags.
Similar to the accused business leaders who have taken plea deals so far, he said they were contributions to electoral campaigns. In his case, the 2013 Congressional election. However, in contrast with the business leaders who said were coerced to give away the money, he assured they were voluntary.
According to Centeno’s notebooks,on September 5, 2013 Abal Medina received money from Juan Carlos De Goycoechea, the high-ranking official of Spanish company Isolux, the first of the accused to take a plea bargain last Friday.
Hours later, Juan Lascurain, former President of the Argentine Industrial Union (UIA), struck a cameraman working for C5N TV channel after testifying before Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio. “Don’t bust my balls, you know I’m not going to talk,” shouted a visibly altered Lascurain, before resorting to violence.
And finally, former Federal Judge Norberto Oyarbide decided to spontaneously appear before Federal Judge Carlos Stornelli to negotiate a plea deal and confess his involvement in illegal activities committed during the period in question, in exchange for a reduction or acquittal of potential charges and police protection, as he assured to fear for his life.
So far, Oyarbide has denied receiving any bribes from the Kirchner administrations or their allies to sway his rulings. However, he told press that he revealed to Bonadio the name of those who (figuratively, presumably) “grabbed him by the neck” to acquit Néstor and Cristina Kirchner of illicit enrichment charges in 2009, and today he went to provide more information regarding the event. Even if Oyarbide did not take bribes to issue the controversial ruling, he would still need to negotiate a plea deal, as failing to be impartial in a ruling – regardless of the cause – is considered a crime.
“I said that, in order to issue this famous ruling, I talked to Javier Fernández and Jaime Stiuso. They were employees of a person who was in charge, and it is the person who passed away, the [former] President’s husband,” he said in a radio interview, making reference to Néstor Kirchner.
Tensions could continue to escalate tomorrow, as Carlos Wagned, former head of the Argentine Construction Chamber, is set to testify. Wagner has already anticipated his intention to take a plea bargain, and it will be up to Bonadio to decide whther the information he provides is good enough to reach the agreement.
Chances are, it will: Wagner has already been accused of being on the private side of the proverbial counter in resounding corruption cases such as the “K Money trail” and the Argentine chapter of the Lava Jato.