Pettovello accused of being part of alleged corruption scheme she denounced

A civil association filed a complaint claiming that the human capital minister was involved in an embezzlement plan

Human Capital Minister Sandra Pettovello was accused of being involved in an alleged corruption scheme that she herself denounced. 

Civil association Arco Social filed a complaint against Pettovello on Monday, claiming that she was part of an embezzlement scheme at the ministry that involved signing contracts with an international organization to give the appearance of paying people who didn’t actually work there.  

Pettovello filed a similar complaint on Saturday, accusing former Childhood, Adolescence, and Family Secretary Pablo de la Torre of being behind this scheme. De la Torre was fired for his role in another ministry scandal involving undelivered food to soup kitchens which the minister is also being targeted for.

The Arco Social accusation targets not only Pettovello but also De la Torre and Luis María Scasso, director of the Ibero-American States Organization for Education, Science, and Culture (OEI, by its Spanish acronym), the international organization accused of being involved in the scandal.

According to the complaint, the ministry hired people through the OEI to make it seem like around a hundred people “who never performed any tasks” were in fact working for the office. The goal was to “carry out an embezzlement scheme and use that money to pay [illegal extra money to those involved] and buy U.S. dollars in the black market.”

The complaint adds that the contracts add up to a billion pesos (US$1M at the official exchange rate or US$770,000 at the MEP rate) and were cleared by former childhood secretariat De la Torre.

The OEI released a communiqué on Saturday acknowledging that it has two agreements with the ministry signed in February. One of them is for “food purchases,” while the other is for what they called “temporary personnel services.” The latter, they added, was arranged with the childhood secretariat to hire service providers based on what the secretariat required. Pettovello also signed both agreements.

“The secretariat was the sole responsible for selecting profiles,” the release pointed out, adding that the OEI was limited to implementing “decisions and procedures” established by the government agency.

The complaint stated that this arrangement allowed Pettovello and De la Torre to avoid legal hiring procedures for hiring people in order to “reach their ultimate goal: the embezzlement of those funds.”

According to Arco Social, this is “a criminal scheme” that involves “falsifying official documents and creating fake work reports” to cover up the ruse. They also asked the judiciary to trace back where the OEI’s money ended up and see how it was used to verify if any other crimes were committed.

The human capital ministry has sought to distance itself from the accusations. According to Argentine media reports, they filed a complaint against De La Torre on Friday after Federico Fernández, a former secretariat director, told ministry representatives about the irregular contracts.

According to the ministry’s complaint, the money from the OEI was exchanged for dollars and used to pay people who were working at the secretariat but were not officially part of the staff, as well as public officials with “low salaries.” It added that Pettovello was not aware of this.

Meanwhile, President Javier Milei and other high-ranking officials have publicly backed Pettovello. The minister has been in the spotlight not only because of the corruption accusations but also for a scandal regarding 5000 tonnes of food stored in warehouses, some of it close to its expiration date, that the ministry had refused to deliver to soup kitchens.

“I am absolutely backing Pettovello. She is the best minister in history,” Milei said during an impromptu visit to the press room at Casa Rosada.

You may also be interested in: Judges order raids on government warehouses amid undelivered food scandal


All Right Reserved.  Buenos Aires Herald