Buenos Aires Times

argentina PART OF FAKE DONOR INVESTIGATION

Macri hustled big business for campaign contributions: journalist

La Plata Judge Ernesto Kreplak summons journalist Hugo Alconada Mon to testify over allegations made in a recent investigation.

Thursday 1 November, 2018
President Mauricio Macri gestures while reading a statement at the Casa Rosada.
President Mauricio Macri gestures while reading a statement at the Casa Rosada. Foto:EITAN ABRAMOVICH / AFP

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A court in La Plata took testimony on Tuesday from investigative reporter Hugo Alconada Mon, who ratified some of the major allegations he made in a recent book about the Macri government's campaign financing tactics in the lead up to the 2015 general election and 2017 mid-terms.

Then candidate for the president Mauricio "Macri met with big businessmen, one by one, in private encounters, and with other businessmen in groups of 25 people. Macri asked all of them for one percent of their capital and, to their surprise, he argued that the remaining 99 percent would be worth more with him as president", Alconada Mon wrote in "The Root of All Evil" (La raíz de todos los males), the most recent book by La Nación newspaper's star reporter.

On Tuesday, Alconada Mon ratified his claims in statements given to La Plata judge Ernesto Kreplak. He refused to give up the identities of his sources, citing journalistic privilege, Perfil.com reported.

Kreplak is investigating the so-called "fake donor" scandal, which centres on claims Macri's Cambiemos (Let’s Change) coalition laundered money by falsifying donation receipts using the personal details of low-income welfare recipients.

One of the claimants, Noemí Viera, requested Alconada Mon's testimony. Viera alleges her identity was used to fake a donation to the Cambiemos campaign. She lives in Villa Itatí with her five children, and receives a welfare plan.

FAKE DONORS

In June, federal prosecutor Carlos Stornelli requested the auditing of campaign finances and an investigation into the structure of the campaign’s accounting and financial teams, following media reports of identity theft.

Four hundred people were listed as donors without knowing, with these fake donors appearing in financial statements as having given anywhere from AR$ 300 to AR$ 5,000, for a total of at least AR $300,000, the news site El Destape reported.

The money was then allegedly used to fund the campaigns of candidates Gladys González, Esteban Bullrich, Graciela Ocaña, and Héctor “Toty” Flores, all of whom won their respective races. The complaint was made by the La Alameda political-activist group and picked up by the anti-Macri news platform El Destape.

Despite weeks of initial silence about the scandal, top coalition members like Buenos Aires province governor Maria Eugenia Vidal distanced themselves from the accused, including Vidal’s former provincial accountant.

“It’s a legal complaint lodged by Kirchnerites and it does not matter who it came from because we presented all of our paperwork”, she told reporters in July. Weeks later, accounant Maria Fernanda Inza, who had managed the campaign's finances, had been sacked.

-TIMES/PERFIL

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