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ARGENTINA | 20-12-2018 15:28

Cristina Kirchner to face corruption trial after court rejects appeal

Prosecutors argue that former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner led a graft scheme from 2003 to 2015 that diverted up to US$160 million worth of kickbacks from public works contracts into the hands of officials of hers and her late husband Néstor Kirchner's governments.

Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will face a public and oral trial, after a federal court on Thursday rejected an appeal against her latest corruption charge.

Tribunal 1 of the Federal Appeals Court found there were no grounds to uphold an appeal against Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio's corruption charge against Fernández de Kirchner, which he handed down in September.

Bonadio investigated the former president in September as part of the so-called "notebooks of corruption" investigation, a fast-moving pre-trial investigation which began in August after the publication in La Nación newspaper of a series of photocopied notebooks belonging to a former chauffeur at the Planning Ministry, Oscar Centeno.

Prosecutors argue that Fernández de Kirchner led a graft scheme from 2003 to 2015 that diverted up to US$160 million worth of kickbacks from public works contracts into the hands of officials of hers and her late husband Néstor Kirchner's governments. It is Fernández de Kirchner's fourth corruption charge to date.

The court upheld an embargo of 1,500 million pesos (USD$38 million) and an arrest warrant against her. The former head of state is protected from jail time because of her parliamentary immunity as a national senator for Buenos Aires province.

It also threw out appeals from former Planning Minister Julio de Vido and his number twos, Roberto Baratta and José López, considering both men to be collaborators of the alleged conspiracy alongside former Kirchner family financier Ernesto Clarens and construction sector boss Carlos Wagner.

NOTEBOOKS

Centeno's notebooks revealed names, amounts and delivery times of alleged bribes paid by construction sector bosses to former Kirchner officials. The hot spot within government appears to have been the Planning Ministry of disgraced former minister De Vido, who is currently in jail on a preventative arrest order.

The scandal has rattled Argentina’s construction industry, over a decade after rumours of widespread bribery in the sector first surfaced. Many top dog industry bosses suspected of corruption have secured plea bargains.

The latest construction bosses in the spotlight of the "notebook" scandal were President Mauricio Macri's brother Gianfranco and father Franco.

See also: President Macri's father and brother to face court investigation into alleged graft

-TIMES

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