March 9, 2014
Prosecutor: judge must question VP
Prosecutor Jorge Di Lello said yesterday evidence supports requiring Vice-President Amado Boudou’s statement as non-indicted witness, along with at least 10 other people, accused of taking over the company that prints the country’s pesos.
The prosecutor accuses Boudou of “business interests that are incompatible with public office,” a charge that does not compromise the vice-president as much as some had expected.
Di Lello filed a request yesterday before Federal Judge Ariel Lijo, who is in charge of the case, asking him to summon Boudou and AFIP tax bureau head Ricardo Echegaray, accusing him of the same offence in the controversial case of the print and minting company Ciccone Calcográfica.
The bankrupt printer was sold off to a shell company linked to the vice-president after he and Echegaray intervened to lower its tax debts. Both officials deny any wrongdoing.
Di Lello says there is evidence linking Boudou to crimes penalized by six years in prison and a lifetime ban from public office.
The prosecutor contends that while Boudou was the Economy minister during President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s first term, he gave a preferential treatment to the printing company which was transferred to The Old Fund,owned by Alejandro Vandenbroele, who is suspected to be Boudou’s front man.
Prosecutor Di Lello does not only want to question Boudou. His list of potential suspects includes Nicolás Ciccone, the founder of the printing company; two of his sons-in-law; José María Núñez Carmona (Boudou’s friend and associate) and Vandenbroele. This list also benefits Boudou because he is not the only defendant, suggesting that the prosecutor does not believe to Ciccone’s story only.
Judge Lijo has to decide if he summons Boudou and the other defendants. There is not a deadline to issue the summons.
In his request, Di Lello acknowledges that the case could hit the headlines but he also made it clear that nothing can justify a delay in the investigation.
“It is not reasonable that the law facilitates an official such as the vice-president of the nation to be under a criminal investigation in an eternal and indefinite way,” Di Lello wrote.
Although Boudou does not have any special protection that would allow him to skirt making a statement before a judge, constitutional expert Gregorio Badeni explained that the vice-president cannot be forced to testify, which can only happen if he resigns his post or if he faces impeachment.
Opposition members said yesterday that they were going to file a request to take Boudou to an impeachment tribunal. Project South (UNEN) Congresswoman Alcira Argumedo said she was going to file a request Monday.
The judiciary has to determine how Alejandro Vandenbroele and Segio Gustavo Martínez, the heads of The Old Fund, purchased the printing company. According to the prosecutor, that purchase might have been carried out with the ultimate goal of printing currency notes, which is why Di Lello considers that Boudou has to be charged with holding interests that are incompatible with public office.
In November, the Criminal Cassation Court declared valid the influence-peddling investigation that involves Boudou in the controversial case.
In order to make that determination, the judges considered valid the statement made by Laura Muñoz, businessman Vandenbroele’s former wife. In 2012, Muñoz told journalist Jorge Lanata — working for the Clarín media group, which is opposed to the Kirchnerite administration — that her former husband was associated with Boudou and had also acted as his front man. If their allegations are proven correct, Boudou could be guilty of using his powerful position for economic gain.
In an interview, Muñoz said that she was talking to the press because she feared for her life due to the information she had.
Established in 1951, Ciccone Calcográfica is currently known as Compañía de Valores Sudamericana (South American Securities Company) and is the only enterprise that has the required technology to print notes and documents such as passports in the country. In 2012, it was expropriated by the federal government.
Herald with DyN