The investigation into public-private corruption that was sparked by the appearance of a series of handwritten notebooks continued this week, as Kirchnerite financier Ernest Clarens reached a plea bargain with Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli that was approved by Judge Claudio Bonadio.
Clarens, seen as the Kirchner family’s moneyman, handed over a pen drive with a series of spreadsheets with alleged data on construction companies and public works projects through the presidencies of Néstor and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The Judiciary is investigating whether the Kirchners headed an illicit association to defraud the state with the help of government officials and the private sector, which is accused of taking advantage of a kickbacks and bribery scheme to secure lucrative public works projects.
The business sector, though, claims it was extorted into paying by the Kirchner government, with ex-federal Planning minister Julio De Vido in charge of the collection mechanism.
Two of the documents handed over by Clarens and his testimony were leaked to the press. Clarens claims that he would receive the bribes from some of Argentina’s top construction companies, which he would convert into dollars and euros and hand over to the late Daniel Muñoz, the Kirchners’ private secretary. The cash would then be flown to Santa Cruz province where it ultimately made its way to the private safes of the Kirchners and their associates.
It took Clarens two attempts to get the judge to approve his plea bargain. Bonadio asked the defendant to offer concrete evidence to support his testimony. On Monday, part of this evidence made its way into nationalTV, where part of the list allegedly detailing the “public works club” and the money amount of works budget or executed was shown on Animales Sueltos show on America TV channel. Throughout the week, Clarín and La Nación newspapers reproduced parts of both lists, indicating sources in the Comodoro Py federal courthouse had informally confirmed the files’ authenticity.