Extracts from the testimony of former Public Works Secretary José López in the so-called “notebooks scandal” case continue to surface. Speaking to Federal Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli, López provided more information about the episode in which he was caught red handed throwing bags filled with roughly US $9 million in cash over a convent – and for which he has been in pre-trial arrest since 2016 – as well as the bribery scheme this investigation is trying to prove.
According to journalists with access to the case, López pointed his finger at former Presidents Néstor and Cristina Kirchner as well as their son and National Deputy, Máximo. He said the two former presidents were the ultimate beneficiaries of the bribes, and that Máximo was involved “in the context of ‘La Cámpora,” the Kirchnerite youth organization from which several members rose to prominence in the government, especially during the last Kirchner administration.
López is one of the two former public officials who -so far – has decided to collaborate with the justice system in the investigation of the case, the other one being Claudio Uberti. López made the decision on Friday but, in contrast with Uberti, has not managed to reach a plea deal yet. Prosecutor Stornelli suggested Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio to approve it, but he considers López has yet to provide more information to do so.
In his first appearance before Stornelli last Friday, López said that in 2013 he was instructed to “raise” money for the 2013 Congressional elections’ campaign, “with the sole purpose of destroying Sergio Massa,” who had left the government that year and created his own party, the Frente Renovador.
Nonetheless, given the magnitude of his testimonies, López entered the witness protection program and was taken to an area of the Ezeiza prison – where he has been since 2016 – away from other former Kirchnerite officials, such as former Vice President Amado Boudou and former Transportation Secretary Ricardo jaime, to prevent any potential retaliation.
In another passage of his testimony, López reiterated that the infamous bags have ties with the bribes being investigated in this case. “They are part of the same scheme,” he said. Moreover, he reaffirmed the bags did not belong to him, but to “people from the political landscape.” “He talked about the ‘main authorities’ of the Executive Branch, saying they demanded the raising of those funds,” indicates Clarín journalist Lucía Salinas.
López had already made a similar statement on August 10, in the beginning of the trial that began as a result of the”bags” episode. Back then, he assured the money was not his, but belonged to “several people from the political landscape” who, through intelligence agents, forced him to take it to the now-infamous convent. Moreover, he assured he does not know who these characters are and “doesn’t want to know,” indicating that he would not reveal all that he knows to protect him and his family.
A large part of López’s statements are under secrecy, due to their relevance for the investigation.