March 9, 2014
Báez, Quiroga testify in graft cases; officials rally in defence of Kirchner
The public works tycoon Lázaro Báez yesterday defended himself from corruption accusations while the former secretary to the late president Néstor Kirchner’s, Miriam Quiroga testified in court about money-laundering allegations yesterday.
Government officials and Kirchnerite politicians yesterday came out in defence of the late head of state. Federal Planning Minister Julio De Vido, who has also faced allegations of wrongdoing, stated “they would not be able to do any harm” to Kirchner’s legacy. Kirchnerite Deputy Diana Conti said she would “put her hands in the fire for Néstor and Cristina” Fernández de Kirchner over their financial reputation.
Báez provided written statements yesterday in rejection of the money-laundering suit filed against him by Civic Coalition provincial lawmaker Mariana Zuvic before the Federal Court of Río Gallegos, Santa Cruz province and officially chose his defence attorney.
The suit was presented before the federal justice system based on statements made by accountants Leonardo Fariña and Federico Elaskar. “Since I’m such a good person, I am energetically rejecting these accusations, whose falsity, already has been recognized publicly by Fariña and Elaskar,” stated Báez in a letter that was made public.
The businessman said that he would “clarify once and for all” the charges made against him. Báez claimed he would help judicial authorities with the investigation that also includes his son and four others.
According to the accusations presented in the television show Periodismo para Todos, Báez had increased his wealth due to public works projects conducted during Kirchner’s terms as governor of Santa Cruz throughout the nineties and then when Kirchner was president of Argentina between 2003-2007. The television report alleged that Báez laundered money abroad.
Miriam Quiroga testifies
Quiroga was officially included in a witness protection programme after she gave long testimony in court yesterday where she spoke about her time as Kirchner’s secretary.
Quiroga spoke for more than four hours before Federal Judge Julián Ercolini, who is in charge of a case against De Vido, former transport secretary Ricardo Jaime and various other officials. Quiroga has declared that she had seen bags that presumably held cash in government offices.
The bags were then sent by jets to Santa Cruz province. Quiroga also declared that she had witnessed on several occasions meetings between Kirchner and businessmen Rudy Ulloa and Lázaro Báez.
However, Quiroga claimed she didn’t know what occurred in those meetings and also added that she was not aware of a secret security vault that the television journalist Jorge Lanata alleged Kirchner used to stash documents and cash.
After finishing her testimony, Quiroga left the courtroom with her security detail making a diversion that made it seem she would leave by the main entrance but she instead left by a side door.
Gov’t officials come out in defence
Fernández de Kirchner’s chief-of-staff Oscar Parrilli was the first to publicly speak about the the money-laundering accusations. De Vido and Conti echoed him yesterday.
De Vido said that when the former president was alive, “accusations made against him never stuck.” De Vido added: “They will be able to do much less now, because he is immortal and lives in all of us.” The minister said that “it’s no surprise that what most bothers them (the critics) is public investment, because before those resources were for them, and they sent them to private bank accounts.”
Conti in turn claimed that the accusations were part of a “slander campaign,” against the President and her late husband. “This is done in an electoral year and is part of the resistance by those private companies affected by the government’s economic policy,” Conti said.
‘Everyone is corrupt’
Civic Coalition Deputy Elisa Carrió stated yesterday in an interview given to Channel 26 that “everyone was corrupt” in the government.
The deputy, who has filed many corruption lawsuits against the national government, said “there is not one opposition politician, not (Hermes) Binner, (Ricardo) Alfonsín, (Eduardo) Duhalde, (Mauricio) Macri, (Sergio) Massa, (Daniel) Scioli and (Roberto) Lavagna who are not a part of those who robbed the country” she said.
The hearing that Quiroga testified in began in 2010 after an allegation made by Carrió against Kirchner, De Vido, Jaime, Báez and Cristobal López. Carrió also presented one of the first suits against Báez after the allegations voiced by Fariña and Elaskar on television.
Herald with Telam, DyN, Ambito.com