Ex-Argentine Vice President detained on laundering charge
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Former Argentine Vice President Amado Boudou was arrested Friday on corruption charges, joining other members of the administration of former President Cristina Fernandez who have been detained.
Boudou was arrested by coast guards in his apartment located in an affluent neighborhood of Buenos Aires and was brought before federal Judge Ariel Lijo to be questioned. Local television channels showed a gloomy Boudou in handcuffs, wearing a bullet-proof vest and a black T-shirt as he was being taken away by the guards. The judge also ordered the arrest of Boudou’s business partner, Jose Maria Nunez Carmona.
The arrest warrant said the charges include illicit association and money laundering. “They developed their criminal schemes since the start of August 2009, when Amado Boudou took charge of the Economy and Finance Ministry, until the month of December 2015, when he ended his vice presidential term,” it said.
The warrant said Boudou made intricate financial transactions, some of them involving bank accounts abroad, to shield money and its beneficiaries. It also said that Boudou laundered money by buying an apartment for his then-girlfriend, journalist Agustina Kampfer.
The embattled former official is already on trial on charges of bribery and conducting business incompatible with public office. In that case, Boudou is accused of using shell companies and middlemen to gain control of a company that was granted contracts to print the Argentine peso. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Boudou’s attorney, Eduardo Duranona, told reporters that he was surprised by the arrest and that his client never intended to flee. He also said Boudou wants to cooperate in the investigation.
Boudou is the latest high-profile official of Fernandez’s administration to have been arrested in a crackdown that has gained steam after President Mauricio Macri’s coalition recently won midterm legislative elections.
Last month, Julio De Vido, an Argentine lawmaker who was Fernandez’s planning minister, turned himself in to authorities after the lower house of Congress voted to remove his immunity from being detained.
De Vido is being investigated on suspicion of having the government overpay more than $7 billion for liquefied gas. He’s also being probed for possible embezzlement in another case involving a coal mine.
Since leaving office in 2015, Fernandez has been hit by a string of corruption scandals and was indicted last year. She has acknowledged that some corruption took place during her government, but denies any wrongdoing and dismisses allegations against her as politically motivated. Fernandez won a Senate seat during the recent elections, which grants her immunity from arrest.
“In Argentina, the government of President Macri is using the judicial power to persecute opposition leaders,” Fernandez said in a statement published on her Twitter account on Friday. “Today, Argentina is going through a great political, media, and judicial show carried out by the government.”