Sunday, June 1, 2014

Argentina: Vice President Amado Boudou Subpoened by Court While Serving as Economy Minister

According to The Latin American Tribune, Vice President Amado Boudou has been summoned for questioning as a potential defendant in a corruption case, Argentina’s judiciary said Friday (May 30). 

The allegations date from Boudou’s 2009-2011 tenure as economy minister.

The subpoena, which requires Boudou to appear July 15 before Federal Judge Ariel Lijo, marks the first time in Argentine history that a sitting vice president is cited as a potential defendant in a criminal matter.

Prosecutors contend Boudou used his position as economy minister to favor a firm that prints currency for the Argentine treasury.

The then-head of the AFIP tax service, Ricardo Echegaray, is also alleged to have played a role in the potential scandal.

COMMENT: In July 2010, a commercial court declared Ciccone Calcografica bankrupt at the behest of the AFIP, which was trying to recover unpaid taxes from the company.

With a new majority owner, The Old Fund, Ciccone emerged from bankruptcy three months later after agreeing with AFIP on a payment plan.

Prosecutors say Old Fund chief executive Alejandro Vandenbroele is a front man for Boudou, a claim the vice president denies.

Pointing to Boudou’s repeated assurances that he would cooperate with the judicial probe, Cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich said Friday that the vice president “is at the court’s service, as always.”

Boudou became vice president following the 2011 elections, in which President Cristina Fernández won a second term with 54% of the vote.

But as Boudou became mired in corruption scandals, Fernández neutralized the vice president.

Even so, her administration has consistently expressed support for the beleaguered vice president, who said Friday that he no plans to resign or take a leave of absence.

Boudou told Radio 10 the subpoena didn’t trouble him because he has been waiting for the opportunity to demonstrate his innocence.

He said the allegations against him originate with business interests unhappy with the policies he implemented while serving as economy minister.

The summons, Boudou said, gives him “the possibility to clear up this scandal that really has become a permanent press operation from the daily CLARÍN and LA NACIÓN.

Both national publications have been sharply critical of President Fernández, as they were of her late husband and predecessor, Nestor Kirchner.

CLARÍN, the flagship of a sprawling media empire that prospered under Argentina’s 1976-1983 military regime, has also chafed at new restrictions on media concentration.

This report will be updated as new information becomes available.