Ex-Argentine president Fernandez indicted in fraud case

Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio says it was evident that the former president gave instructions -- which without a doubt were developed jointly -- to her economy minister to carry out the financial operation.

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Argentina’s top court indicted former president Cristina Fernandez over charges of damaging national economy by allowing irregularities in the central bank’s foreign exchange operations.

The court also ordered to freeze Fernandez’s assets worth around one million US dollars. Former central bank chief Alejandro Vanoli, economy minister Axel Kicillof and other central bank board members were also charged.

Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio said it was "evident that the then president gave instructions -- which without a doubt were developed jointly -- to her economy minister to carry out the financial operation," according to a statement released on the Supreme Court's website on Friday.

Fernandez, who held office from 2007 to 2015 heads a large faction of the Peronist party, stepped down in December at the end of her second term.

Big transactions

Fernandez is accused of having caused a loss to the national exchequer through speculative dollar sales by the central bank at the end of 2015, just before the election of centre-right President Mauricio Macri.

The transactions referred to in the case involved $5 billion to $17 billion, according to court papers published by Argentina's Judicial Information Centre (CIJ).

"It's impossible to believe that a financial operation of this size ... could have been carried out without the approval of the highest executive level of the national government," the court ruling said.

People stand outside the Federal Justice building in Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 9, 2016.

Political noise

Fernandez last month accused the Macri government of political persecution after testifying in court about the central bank's dollar-buying operations.

"The indictment was not unexpected, but politically, it creates noise," said Ignacio Labaqui, who analyses Argentina for emerging markets consultancy Medley Global Advisors. "Peronism is going through a leadership crisis and this could make the divisions within the party more acute."

Bipartisan allegations

Several former officials of Fernandez administration have been tainted by allegations of corruption, but the Macri administration also faces problems.

Former planning minister Julio De Vido faces criminal negligence charges for his poor administration of the railroad system, which resulted in a 2012 train crash that killed 51 people and injured 700.

In April two former transportation secretaries, Ricardo Jaime and Juan Pablo Schiavi, were indicted on bribery and fraud charges relating to the purchase of used train stock from Spain and Portugal.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri delivering a speech in Buenos Aires on May 9, 2016.

President Macri himself is being investigated for alleged links to offshore companies named in the Panama Papers tax evasion revelations.

Nestor Grindetti, a mayor and Macri confidant, is being probed for links to offshore tax havens and was earlier linked to a case of tax evasion in Brazil.

TRTWorld and agencies