The shock discovery of an envelope stuffed with US$10,000 in cash at a government office has sparked speculation over the source of its origins – and a criminal complaint.
On Friday morning, prosecutors began investigating the scandal, which began after lawyers for the Production Ministry, led by Matías Kulfas, filed a criminal complaint.
According to a report in the local daily La Nación, the money was discovered in the bottom of a drawer at the ministry office's at 500 Paseo Colón, metres away from the Casa Rosada.
The newspaper said the envelope was discovered after an employee tried to close a desk drawer inside an office, which has a lock that features electronic fingerprint recognition and a double door. "The office has unusual security measures," sources told the newspaper.
In addition, papers were found with date references and figures in pesos and dollars, as well as the name of an as yet unidentified company.
According to the complaint, as quoted by Noticias Argentinas, the money was found inside a desk within an office that was formerly assigned to ministry's coordination secretary under the Mauricio Macri administration, Rodrigo Sbarrra.
In what seemed to be an acknowledgement of the news, he tweeted Thursday: "Good level of operetta, eh. My God." He later thanked users for the "affectionate greetings" he had received in response to the initial post.
Court sources told Perfil that neither the court nor the prosecutor's office had provided alleged information about the name of a company, nor dates.
Judicial sources confirmed to the Noticias Argentinas news agency Friday that federal prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita had begun taking statements from six witnesses linked to the discovery.
Initial reports Friday said two individuals were direct witnesses to the events that followed the envelope's discovery on Thursday, including the director of the ministry's legal department.
The cash has been placed inside a Banco Nación vault for safekeeping and to provide proof of the compliant, the sources added. Pollicita has requested access to CCTV footage of individuals who have entered the ministry in recent months.
According to reports in some local outlets – though not included in the criminal complaint – there were notes, featuring the name of the company, either on the envelope or on paper at the site where it was discovered.
Pollicita will now begin trying to trace the origin of the money, although sources told NA that this would take some considerable amount of time, given that a change of government happened more than 40 days ago. For now, the prosecutor is only seeking to know where the money came from and why, given there is no individual denounced in the criminal complaint.