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Argentina Probes IBM Bribe Case

April 30, 1998

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) _ A former president of IBM Argentina on Wednesday sought to link another company official to an alleged kickback scheme, a judge said.

IBM Argentina has been accused of paying $21 million in bribes to win a $249 million contract to computerize state-owned Banco Nacion, the country’s largest bank.

In testimony before Judge Adolfo Bagnascoa, who’s investigating the case, former IBM Argentina President Ricardo Martorana said Steve Lew, an U.S.-based IBM employee, was sent to oversee contracts won by the Argentine IBM unit.

``Martorana seriously laid the blame on Lew,″ Bagnasco told reporters, without elaborating.

Fred McNeese, a spokesman for the Armonk, N.Y.-based computer company, Wednesday night declined to comment on the charges in Martorana’s testimony.

But McNeese said ``no IBM employee in the United States was aware that money was being diverted.″ McNeese said Lew was a technical expert in IBM’s Latin American division.

IBM spokesmen in Buenos Aires didn’t return calls.

A year ago, 10 former IBM and Banco Nacion officials were charged with bribery in connection with the case. They included Martorana and former Banco Nacion president Aldo Dadone.

Earlier this week, two former bank directors, also among those indicted, told Judge Bagnascoa that they received money from IBM after the contract was signed.

Genaro Contartese said he received $1.5 million and Alfredo Aldaco said he received $2.5 million.

Both men said the money was in a Swiss bank and that they would hand it over to Bagnasco.

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