Buenos Aires Times

argentina Head of intelligence

Arribas escapes bribery charges after Supreme Court shuts down appeal

The head of Argentina's Federal Intelligence Agency, Gustavo Arribas, was accused of accepting up to US$800,000 in bribes tied to the dealings of Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht.

Tuesday 19 February, 2019
Gustavo Arribas leaves the Comodoro Py courthouse (file).
Gustavo Arribas leaves the Comodoro Py courthouse (file). Foto:File-Perfil

The head of Argentina's Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI), Gustavo Arribas, has escaped money laundering charges, after the Supreme Court on Tuesday shut down a final appeal against his earlier acquittal.

The case — which formed part of the infamous region-wide Operation Lava Jato (Car Wash) scandal — was closed unanimously on procedural grounds, according to the final ruling obtained by Perfil, in which the five Justices described the plaintiffs' arguments as "inadmissible". The appeal was being pursued by Argentina's Administrative Investigations Ombudsman (PIA).

In 2017, Arribas was accused of accepting up to US$800,000 in bribes tied to the dealings of Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht, whose giant corruption scheme has so far implicated dozens of business leaders and politicians across Latin America.

The allegations against the head of intelligence centred on information provided to investigating authorities in Brazil.

Arribas was the first member of Macri's administration to be tied to the scandal.

The Court's decision comes 10 months after it first received the appeal, in stark contrast to its speedy passage through lower courts.

A SPECIAL CASE

Arribas had initially only recognised one foreign bank transfer to his name and revealed in plea bargain evidence given to the Lava Jato investigation: one to a Swiss bank account in September, 2013, for the purchase of an apartment in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He later backtracked on the confession, claiming the money was for furniture.

Elisa Carrió, a key government ally, took the information to Argentine authorities in early 2017, to open a criminal investigation against Arribas.

The case fell into the hands of Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral, who in a remarkably speedy decision, shut down the case in March 2017. This prompted the PIA to elevate an appeal.

Judge Canicoaba Corral said because Arribas lived outside of Argentina and was not a public official at the time of the alleged transgressions, he could not be prosecuted, according to Argentine law.

-TIMES/PERFIL

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