Argentina’s Fernandez denies heading corruption network
Fernandez appeared in court before judge Claudio Bonadio, who is investigating a massive corruption scandal that allegedly occurred during her 2007-2015 presidency and that of her predecessor and late husband Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007).
Construction and energy entrepreneurs are suspected of paying up to hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to the Kirchner governments in exchange for public contracts. More than a dozen people, including entrepreneurs and officials, have been detained and dozens indicted.
Several of the entrepreneurs agreed to co-operate with police, admitting to having made illegal payments, and were released.
The charges are based partly on notes taken by the former driver of a former senior official at the Ministry of Federal Planning, who is among those under arrest.
The driver allegedly delivered bags containing bills into the Kirchners’ official and private residences and to government offices.
Money delivered between 2005 and 2015 amounted to 160mn dollars, according to the daily La Nacion, which added that the total could amount to 50% more.
As a senator, Fernandez enjoys parliamentary immunity unless the Senate lifts it.
She asked for Bonadio and prosecutor Carlos Stornelli to be removed from the case, judicial sources said.
In her written statement to the court, Fernandez called Bonadio an “enemy judge” and said she was considering taking her case before international human rights organisations.
The case against her coincided with President Mauricio Macri’s falling popularity ratings, Fernandez pointed out.
The 65-year-old was already facing charges related to corruption and to an alleged cover-up of Iran’s involvement in the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in 1994.
Fernandez is regarded as one of the possible challengers to Macri in the 2019 elections.