Monday, March 4, 2024

ARGENTINA | 04-03-2021 16:47

Fernández de Kirchner attacks judicial 'persecution' as corruption case heard

Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner let rip at Argentina's Judiciary on Thursday, accusing the courts of engaging in "persecution" against her as she gave testimony in graft case.

Vice-President Cristina Fernández Kirchner let rip at Argentina's Judiciary on Thursday, accusing the courts of engaging in "persecution" against her, as she appeared in court virtually giving testimony in a corruption probe known as the 'Dollar Futures' case.

It's one of nine corruption cases facing the former president, who led the nation from 2007 to 2015 and today serves as deputy to President Alberto Fernández.

"The 'lawfare' is still in full swing," said the 68-year-old, referring to a term that refers to the alleged misuse of the law for political reasons.

"This is not only a leading case of lawfare but also the meddling and manipulation of judicial power in the electoral processes and Argentine politics," added Fernández de Kirchner, who denies all the allegations against her.

"We are in a very serious institutional moment in the Argentine Republic, they cannot continue to behave like a corporation," she told the judges.

The case stems from October 2015 when she was still president. Members of the opposition accused her of fraud in relation to contracts for the purchase of future dollars.

Argentina was in the midst of a presidential election at the time that was won by Mauricio Macri in a run-off against the Peronist candidate Daniel Scioli, who had been endorsed by Fernández de Kirchner.

The case brought against the vice-president claims that dollar futures were sold below market value resulting in a loss of 55 billion pesos (around US$5.5 billion at the time) for the Central Bank after Macri came to power.

Before the 2015 election, the Central Bank agreed to foreign currency sales in a bid to discourage devaluation of the currency during a period of currency controls. But when Macri lifted those controls, the peso plunged by 30 percent.

"I was accused of benefitting my friends. The truth is not one friend, not one official in our government had futures contracts. Those that had them were friends of Macri and his officials," said Fernández de Kirchner, giving testimony that was streamed live on YouTube and news channels across the nation.

At least 14,000 individuals were watching the video live at one point.

"When they came to the government, they agreed on the interest rate that they were going to pay their own contracts that they had made before, knowing that they were going to devalue," she added.

Macri and his officials "came to the government, devalued, took advantage of the devaluation in future dollar contracts and those of us who are sitting here and accused are us," the veep charged.

In 2020, an accounting expert report carried out by experts from the Supreme Court "determined that there was never any damage" against the Central Bank, she claimed.

Critics of the vice-president slammed her testimony. Ex-presidential candidate José Luis Espert branded the VP as "cynical and hypocritical," saying Fernández de Kirchner "deserved criminal investigation."

The opposition UCR Radical party meanwhile blasted the "theatrical verbiage" she displayed, while PRO opposition party leader Patricia Bullrich accused the former president of seeking to reform the Judiciary for her own personal benefit.

Fernández de Kirchner's former economy minister Axel Kicillof, today the current governor of Buenos Aires Province, and the ex-governor of the Central Bank, Alejandro Vanolli are also amongst the defendants in the case.



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