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Legal probe accuses Macri of 'abuse of power' over IMF loan

Federal prosecutor Jorge Di Lello has asked that Argentina's IMF agreement be suspended until a decision is made whether to proceed with a case against Macri.

Wednesday 5 September, 2018
President Mauricio Macri.
President Mauricio Macri. Foto:AFP

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A federal prosecutor is pushing for charges as he investigates an accusation of "abuse of power" against President Mauricio Macri over his government's decision to agree a US$50-billion standby loan with the International Monetary Fund.

Federal prosecutor Jorge Di Lello has also asked that Argentina's IMF agreement be suspended until a decision is made whether to proceed with a case against Macri.

"There's a formal accusation because there's an attribution problem and it's possible that the president and his ministers did not have the right to sign such an accord," Javier Delio, the federal prosecutor's secretary, told the AFP news agency.

The case stems from a complaint made by former lawmaker Claudio Lozano and Jonatan Baldiviezo, of the City rights observatory, who accuse members of the executive of "abuse of power and violation of public duties in bypassing Congress to sign an accord with the IMF."

The plaintiffs claim that Argentina's 2018 Budget Law does not authorise the Executive to sign agreements with the IMF.

The case has been passed to a federal judge, most likely Judge Julián Ercolini, to study the evidence and decide whether or not to proceed with an investigation. Ercolini would have the power to suspend the deal, should he attempt to move forward.

In June, Macri agreed a three-year US$50-billion loan with the IMF to try to solve the country's economic woes. Argentina was facing mounting inflation, budget deficits and a weakening currency.

However, despite receiving an initial US$15-billion tranche of the loan in June, the economy has worsened while investor confidence dropped.

Inflation over the last 12 months is at around 30 percent while the peso dropped to a record low of almost 40 against the dollar last week, with the Central Bank trying to stop the rot by hiking interest rates to a world-high 60 percent.

- TIMES/AFP

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