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ARGENTINA | 06-07-2018 11:49

Hotesur case: Court moves closer to recovering CFK's alleged dirty money

Former president-cum-Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was indicted in May, along with her children Máximo and Florencia, on alleged money-laundering charges.

A federal judge has intervened into a hotel management firm which allegedly participated in a money-laundering operation involving the hotel businesses of former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her family.

Judge Julián Ercolini ordered the Idea SA firm be placed under a six-month court trusteeship on Thursday. The firm, which administers the Kirchner family’s Alto Calafate hotel, belongs to businessman Osvaldo Sanfelice, an extremely close confidant of the family. 

Ercolini presides over the so-called 'Hotesur' case. His latest ruling, at the request of prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita, was grounded on the detecion of various irregularities, including the firm’s two-million-peso debt with Hotesur SA (a firm owned until very recently by the Kirchner family). It is the latest in a long list of decisions related to the estate and holdings of  Fernández de Kirchner and her relatives.

The former president-cum-Senator was indicted in May, along with her children Máximo and Florencia, on alleged money-laundering charges. Prosecutors believe the laundering operation was orchestrated by accountant Víctor Manzanares, a businessman and the alleged frontman of the Kirchner family, fellow Kirchnerite business ally Lázaro Báez, and others.

The former president is now facing a number of legal battles. Since 2016, the courts have placed embargoes on her assets and intervened companies linked to her family. Each ruling has sought to ensure the future recovery of any assets considered to have stemmed from illegal financial activity.

In his ruling — published by the Judicial Information Centre (CIJ) — Ercolini explained that the intervention into the running of the firm will still give the company the “tools to manage information, administer, and comply with its tax obligations, for six months on the condition of the removal of [the people that compose] its current administration.” 

He said the current situation “requires the adoption of new measures to guarantee that assets can be recovered, which would ultimately depend on the proper functioning of the companies involved.”

Ercolini has presided over the case since mid 2016. Among his first moves was the seizure of US$4.66 million dollars found in a safety deposit box belonging to Florencia Kirchner. The seizure of box 999, situated at the headquarters of Banco Galicia, in downtown Buenos Aires, took place in July, 2016. That amount was in addition to a further US$1.03 million that had already been seized from a savings account, which also held AR$53,280.24 pesos. That account, number 4021118-4198-7, was also registered in the name of the youngest daughter of the former president.

Ercolini also ordered the general freezing of some of Florencia’s property, as well as that of her older brother, congressman Máximo Kirchner, and of the firms Hotesur SA and CO.MA SA, based on “the participation of the aforementioned individuals in these firms.”

The judges recalled in his ruling Thursday that in the middle of last year court-appointed officers were sent to Hotesur SA, Valle Miter SA and Idea SA. 

“The general inhibition of assets belonging to the last two [companies] was ordered and any changes to the shareholder structure or any distribution of dividends was prohibited,” he wrote.

After receiving an investigation report, Ercolini ordered that between August and December last year, Hotesur SA be subject to trusteeship under the same terms as Idea SA, as of Thursday, with the “tools to manage information, administer, and comply with its tax obligations.”

Ercoloni has placed 800-million-peso embargoes on the former president, her children, her niece Romina Mercado, Báez and Manzanares.

This article appeared originally in Spanish on Perfil.com

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Cecilia Devanna

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