Oscar Thomas is the only remaining fugitive in the ongoing Notebook Scandal, which many political analysts in Argentina are referring to as the biggest corruption scandal in the country’s history. Moreover, the former official’s lawyer maintained that he would remain on the run, and had no intention of appearing before the courts until he received certain assurances in terms of his “treatment”.
Thomas— who was implicated in the widespread bribery scandal surrounding the Argentine public works sector under the Nestor and Cristina Kirchner administrations— was the former executive director of the Entidad Binacional Yacyretá (EBY) throughout the Kirchner administrations. EBY is a binational joint venture that operates the Yacyretá hydroelectric dam on the border of Argentina and Paraguay.
Thomas was recorded in the Notebooks as being one of the many figures who approached Roberto Baratta, illegally offering him bribe money in exchange for lucrative public works projects.
However, his fugitive status is not the only controversy the former Kirchner official has embroiled himself in the past few years. The former head of Yacyretá was reported to have given himself and his closest allies a multi-million compensation, which was available for collection the day after Cristina Kirchner’s departure from office, which was also Mauricio Macri’s first day as president. Kirchner had been the one to originally give Thomas— a trusted ally of the former Minister of Planning Julio De Vido— his post.
According to official company records reported by La Nación, Thomas authorized a transfer of almost AR $17 million to himself and his closest collaborators from company funds. Included in the payouts were AR $4.30 million to himself, AR $3.23 million to Daniel Mugherza, AR $3.388 million to Mirta Susana Monti, AR $3.19 million to Jorge Romero, and AR $3.13 million to Raul Noceti, all close advisors to the former official.
A few years earlier in August of 2012, Thomas had already signed off on a resolution authorizing the payment of a significant bonus to those who worked at Yacyretá for at least a decade, benefiting himself and his allies.
Thomas’ successor at Yacyretá, Humberto Schiavoni (who is now a senator and the chair of the National Council of the PRO) ordered the offices of EBY to hand over all records documenting these payouts to the Procurator’s Office and the Anti-Corruption Office (OA) as soon as he assumed the post. Schiavoni stressed that such compensations should apply only to staff not linked directly to politics, as was the case with Thomas and his collaborators.