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Argentina's vice president charged with bribery

June 28, 2014
Associated Press

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — An Argentine judge has charged Vice President Amado Boudou with bribery and conducting business incompatible with public office in the acquisition of the company that prints the country's currency and of later benefiting from government contracts.

Boudou is accused of using shell companies and secret middlemen to gain control of the company that was given contracts to print the Argentine peso and campaign material for the ticket he shared with President Cristina Fernandez.

Federal judge Ariel Lijo's decision was published Friday night on the justice department's website. The judge also ordered 200,000 pesos ($25,000) seized from Boudou, who will remain free while he waits trial in the case along with five other defendants.

Boudou is the first sitting Argentine vice president to face such charges. He could be sentenced to between one and six years in prison, and a lifetime ban from elective office.

Boudou, who is on an official trip to Central America, says he's innocent of the accusations despite ample evidence linking him to other defendants that was made public through investigative reports by Argentina's newspapers.

Many Argentines have questioned why Fernandez has remained loyal to her No. 2 when allegations have made him Argentina's least popular politician, opponents are threatening to impeach him and some allies say he should resign. His falling fortunes have left the government without a clear presidential successor ahead of the 2015 elections. Fernandez has yet to speak publicly about the case.

Boudou is accused of acting as economy minister and then vice president to smooth the Ciccone Calcografica printing company's exit from bankruptcy and engineer its purchase by a shell company so he and other secret partners could benefit from unusual tax exemptions and lucrative government contracts.

The shell company, The Old Fund, was led by businessman Alejandro Vandenbroele, who is accused of secretly representing Boudou in business deals. The scandal broke open after Vandenbroele's former wife exposed the alleged arrangement, saying she had to give media interviews because her life was being threatened for what she knew.

Others who were ordered to testify in the case included longtime Boudou friend and business partner Jose Maria Nunez Carmona; Vandenbroele; former tax agency official Rafael Resnick Brenner; printing company co-founder Nicolas Ciccone; and his son-in-law Guillermo Reinwick.

The Ciccones have said Boudou was personally involved in the negotiations that persuaded them to sell 70 percent of the family company to The Old Fund.

Boudou has denied participating in the meetings. He has said he wasn't involved with The Old Fund, even though documents published by the newspaper La Nacion show the company paid his girlfriend's travel company for vacations taken by his friends and relatives.

Boudou also said he didn't know Vandenbroele, but the businessman's name was on bills at one of Boudou's apartments, according to copies published by La Nacion.

Boudou has not denied signing a decree as economy minister that effectively erased the printer's debts by enabling the new owners to pay back taxes over many years at below-market interest rates.

 
 

 

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