Fact Check: Argentina

958 days, 18 hours, 37 minutes ago


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The “real cause of Cristina’s fury with judiciary”: a judge has connected the dots on Kirchner family corruption

Meanwhile, internal operative is dispatched to “clean up” evidence not yet obtained from tax authority

Marcelo Bonelli writes in his regular Friday column for Clarin that “the real cause for Cristina’s fury” against the Argentine judiciary is that Judge Claudio Bonadio, who is investigating irregularities at her family’s hotel company, Hotesur, has apparently connected the evidentiary dots that link the Kirchner family to an elaborate corruption and money laundering scheme involving two Argentine tycoons, Lázaro Báez and Cristóbal López.

We have long reported here on the various ways that López and Báez have separately benefited from and supported the Kirchner family while they were in power. The infamous “K Money Trail” put Báez forth as the Kirchner family’s front man in an elaborate embezzlement and money laundering scheme. And López owns a huge conglomerate that also includes hotels, as well as media companies that benefit from the Casa Rosada’s advertising largesse, millions in energy concessions, and he is known as the “gambling czar” for his dominant role in the country’s gambling industry.

Bonadio has apparently uncovered the first tangible evidence linked all three in the corruption scheme, as Bonelli reports:

Gambling czar Cristóbal López is involved in the money laundering investigation being conducted by the judiciary into the hotels of the presidential family. Claudio Bonadio has found triangulated operations using company accounts of López’s to settle alleged fictitious income at Hotesur.

This would be the first proven connection of business transactions involving Lázaro Báez and Cristóbal López with the Kirchner family.

Báez and López have a close relationship with the President and multiplied their business dealings in the Kirchner decade. But this finding would unite them in an investigation for alleged corruption.

This invoicing – pending other evidence – has confirmed two things: that Báez paid the Kirchners through ghost rentals of rooms that he never used, and then there were transfers of funds using accounts of the gambling czar’s holding company.

The news of Bonadio’s discoveries “fell like a bucket of ice water” on the Casa Rosada, Bonelli reports, and is being discussed among the top industrialists in Argentina as “what is really worrying Cristina and infuriating her about the judiciary.”

As we’ve reported here, investigative journalists in Argentina began reporting strange things showing up on the credit card bills of guests staying at Kirchner family hotels. In some of those hotels that were once managed by Báez’s companies, charges would show up as being credited to companies owned by López. But apparently now Bonadio has found the evidence of the “triangulated” web of corruption involving the presidential family.

Bonelli also reports that Cristina’s closest aide, Carlos Zannini has ordered the head of the General Tax Directorate (DGI), Angel Ruben Toninelli, within the country’s national tax agency AFIP, to “clean up” Hotesur’s tax records while Bonadio’s investigation advances, or interfere with the investigation inside the regional office of the nation’s capital. According to the report, Toninelli pressured the Metropolitan Director of the DGI, Exequiel Lebed, to sign off on a whitewash of an internal investigation in his office into whether Hotesur used fake invoices to falsify its income, and then Lebed took a vacation, took sick leave, and then resigned.