LATIN AMERICA

Judge opens corruption inquiry into Argentina's vice president

Charges filed by federal prosecutor appointed to investigate Amado Boudou's finances President Kirchner avoids talking about charges in public

Madrid -
Boudou with his girlfriend.
Boudou with his girlfriend.E. L. (EFE)

A judge in Argentina on Monday formally opened money laundering and illegal enrichment investigations into Vice President Amado Boudou, stemming from an alleged financial transaction involving the sale of a printing company.

Charges were filed by federal prosecutor Jorge Di Lello, who was appointed to investigate Boudou's personal finances. Another complaint had been filed against the vice president by a journalist investigating the case.

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, whose relationship with the 49-year-old Boudou has been rocky since her reelection last year, has not publicly discussed the charges.

Also named in the inquiry were Boudou's girlfriend, 30-year-old television journalist Agustina Kämpfer, and two other alleged accomplices who reportedly agreed to help him conceal the money he got from the former Ciccone Calligraphy printing plant.

"The scandal that is smearing Vice President Amado Boudou regarding his links with businessmen who offered to become his front men for his multi-million-dollar business deals with the government - which broke open with the acquisition of Ciccone - continues to surprise us each day," Di Lello wrote in his complaint to the judge.

On April 5, Boudou held a news conference to attack another judge and prosecutor who were then leading the inquiry. He did not take questions. Days later the two investigators were removed from the case.

According to the allegations, Boudou, while economy minister during Fernández de Kirchner's first term, used his influence in 2010 to reverse the bankruptcy of the Ciccone firm, which printed official documents, including treasury bills, and allowed it to pass into the hands of a friend, Alejandro Vandenbroele.

Testifying against Boudou was Vandenbroele's former girlfriend, who acknowledged that he acted as a front man. The new allegations will no doubt pile more political pressure on Boudou.

Boudou's assets, including his properties in Buenos Aires and accounts in at least four banks are also under investigation. During the first inquiry, a search of one of his homes was ordered.

More inquiries

This is one of several corruption complaints filed against Boudou. Investigations over whether he used a helicopter from a private construction company and whether he owned automobiles with false registrations are also pending.

Boudou joined Fernández de Kirchner on the Peronist ticket last year after she had a falling out with the vice president from her previous term, Julio Cobos, over his vote against her grain export tax and broke an impasse in the Senate in 2008.

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