“I never gave a cent”, was how Ramón Ayala, the head of the Argentine Rural Workers Union (UATRE) responded to revelations that his name had appeared in a list of 2017 mid-term election campaign donors.
An investigation is underway into the financial activity of the Cambiemos (Let’s Change) congressional coalition during its 2017 mid-term election campaign in Buenos Aires province. The coalition that secured Mauricio Macri’s 2015 presidential win is alleged to have laundered money by falsifying donation receipts using the names and details of low-income welfare recipients.
Ayala appears in a list of donors as having donated 5,000 pesos.
“I never donated to the Cambiemos campaign. We worked for it and supported it but we did not donate money”, he told FM La Patriada, whose journalists Juan Amorín and Rocío Criado were the ones to deliver Ayala the news that his name had appeared on the list of donors.
“Really? It’s news to me”, he said. “It’s difficult to get money out of me”.
Federal prosecutor Carlos Stornelli has requested the auditing of campaign finances and an investigation into the structure of the campaign’s accounting and financial teams.
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.
One branch of case is currently in the hands of prosecutor Jorge Di Lello in Buenos Aires City and another with judge Sebastián Casanello. However, it may be moved to provincial jurisdiction, given the connections between the alleged laundering of funds and the 2017 election of candidates representing that province.