Tuesday, August 20, 2019
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ARGENTINA | 25-04-2019 01:49

Leandro Báez testifies, provides rare insight into father Lázaro Báez's dealings with Kirchners

Lázaro Báez's youngest son testifies in money laundering case, taking aim at his father and giving details about his relationship with the Kirchners.

Leandro Báez, the youngest son of Lázaro Báez, on Wednesday testified in the so-called "K money route", offering a rare insight into the alleged corruption of his father's business Austral Construcciones in cahoots with the former Kirchner administrations.

Leandro Báez and his three siblings stand accused of money laundering alongside their father, the alleged frontman for the Kirchner presidential couple whose construction firm Austral "was his business and he managed it as his wished", Leandro Báez told the court. "He made the decisions". 

The defendant, who faces the prospect of four years in jail, also made revelations concerning his eldest brother Martín, who is jailed at Ezeiza prison with Lázaro Báez, both under preventative arrest warrants.

"Martín didn't tell me about the offshore accounts. Martín is a very reserved person", he told the court. "I never asked anybody where the money came from".

"Lázaro managed the money. He would say: 'I handle the money'", Leandro alleged.

Throughout his testimony, he insisted he had no control of the financial activities allegedly carried out by family members using his name.

"We have different ways of seeing the world. We don't share the same company. It's better to maintain distance", he said of his relationship with Lázaro Báez.

His lawyer Analia Fangano has argued before the court that Lázaro manipulated his children who "had no control or awareness" about the alleged illegal financial operations being carried out in their names.

Among the allegations revealed in his testimony was the suspicion that Lázaro stole Leandro's passport and ID documents to facilitate illegal activities.

His defence has also emphasised his young age at the time that Lázaro made him and his siblings partners in Austral Construcciones.

RELATIONSHIP WITH THE KIRCHNERS

When asked by prosecutor Abel Córdoba about his relationship with Néstor and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Leandro Báez said he "met them at a barbecue in Cruz Aike", an estate owned by his father.

He spent time with "Néstor and Cristina" three or four times at "Lázaro's estate", Leandro told the court, adding that his father met Néstor Kirchner multiple times at the Olivos Presidential Palace and Casa Rosa Government House.

"I remember it because I went with him", Leandro said of an alleged meeting between his father and Néstor Kirchner at Government House in Buenos Aires around mid 2003. "It was just after Néstor became president. He had a meeting and I went to do touristic things".

ALLEGED METHODOLOGY

Leandro also gave insight into the alleged methodology Austral Construcciones used to win lucrative public works contracts.

"There was a technical representative (in the firm) who would prepare the budgets for the works. That ask was supervised by the production chief and by Lázaro Báez", he alleged.

"It was in 2002 or 2003" that plans were made to found Austral Construcciones, Leandro said, responding to a question by the state Anti-corruption Office (AI), which is a plaintiff in the case. However, he denied knowing the exact motives for its founding. "I can't remember exactly. I was in school. I was 13 years old. I don't know why they founded it".

He also denied knowing about money allegedly being buried at Lázaro's properties.

"As I understand it, there isn't" money buried anyway, he said, also denying any knowledge about offshore firms in Panamá, Uruguay and Belize with alleged links to Báez businesses.

He did, however, confess to signing cheques at the firm "but I did not prepare them".

This article originally appeared in Spanish on Perfil.com

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