Buenos Aires Times

argentina CORRUPTION

Carrió throws doubt over future of Macri coalition amid fury over AFIP tax bureau sackings

The dispute between firebrand lawmaker Elisa Carrió and sectors of the Macri administration centres around the recent sackings of three AFIP tax bureau officials, whom Carrió claims were the guarantors of several key investigations into Kirchner-era corruption. Some of these have seen Macri's cousin Angelo Calcaterra, among other men in the construction sector, in hot water on bribery allegations.

Monday 8 October, 2018
Firebrand lawmaker Elisa Carrió.
Firebrand lawmaker Elisa Carrió. Foto:Noticias Argentinas

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One of the president’s major political allies, Elisa Carrió, is again threatening to break the alliance she formed with Mauricio Macri to get him into the Pink House in 2015.

The dispute centres around the recent sackings of three AFIP tax bureau officials, whom Carrió claims were the guarantors of several key investigations into Kirchner-era corruption.

One of the men, Carlos Bo, is a key adviser to Carrió. Another, Horacio Castagnola, had been in charge of investigations into the tax component of two major corruption cases currently before the courts: the underground expansion of the Sarmiento train line and the so-called “notebook scandal” involving alleged kick-backs from public works contracts. Both cases have Macri's cousin Angelo Calcaterra, among other men in the construction sector, in hot water on bribery allegations.

Carrió had met with AFIP tax boss Leandro Cuccioli on Monday, allegedly asking him to protect the three men but, following a lunch meeting with President Macri, Cuccioli proceeded to fire them, sources told Perfil. Calcaterra has reportedly claimed he "did not request anyone be fired from the AFIP" and denies having contact with the president in over two months.

“Removing three heroes from the AFIP because of my support [for them], is equivalent to aligning oneself with [former AFIP boss Ricardo] Echegaray and his people”, the firebrand lawmaker charged on Twitter on Saturday.

“The president will have to choose between the [Daniel] Angelici path or the Carrió path: he chooses or he falls”, she said at a book presentation in Corrientes province, in reference to the man believed to be Macri’s operator within the Judiciary. Carrió later cancelled a television appearance scheduled in Buenos Aires, citing a desire to stay in her home province of Chaco to see her mother.

“If it’s Angelici, it means [working with thugs], fix-ups with judges, [union kingpin Hugo] Moyano. We’re not going to be there. There are millions of us Argentines who have suffered”, she charged.

“I’m also not leaving, I’m not going to be functional to those who want to get rid of me”, she added, referring to suggestions she would quit the alliance.

The latest public outburst from Carrió — who is the leader of one of the three major parties that form Macri’s Cambiemos (Let’s Change) alliance, the Coalicion Civic-CC — comes after she alleged the Justice Minister German Garavano may have played a role in pressuring the judiciary to favour former president Carlos Menem in a 22-year-old illicit arms deal investigation, of which Menem was acquitted last week.

Garavano's "statements are an embarrassment to the Republic and the separation of the three branches", she said last week after Garavano stated "it is never good" that a "former president be targeted for arrest or detained preventively". Carrió has been a major proponent of stripping Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of her parliamentary immunity so that the former president-cum-senator face the consequences of several legal investigations against her.

AFIP RESPONDS

The AFIP has rejected claims that any investigations could be hindered by the sacking, which it described as the “renovation of the organism’s leadership”.

“These modification do not respond to any political conditioning nor do they impede any ongoing investigation or the active and permanent collaboration of the AFIP in diverse legal cases inside the Federal Judiciary”, the AFIP said in a statement.

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