April 23, 2014

Former president faces corruption charges over a labour reform

Monday, December 23, 2013

De la Rúa bribery trial ends today

The case of the alleged payment of bribes to senators that marked the beginning of the end of the 1999-2001 government led by the Alianza front will end today with a ruling that could convict former president Fernando de la Rúa to prison for promoting this measure with the purpose of clinching the approval of his administration’s labour reform in April, 2000.

The trial included the suicide of a key actor and a confession from the person who allegedly delivered the money.

Seventy-four-year-old De la Rúa (who fled the Government House in a helicopter during the 2001 economic crisis); the former Intelligence Agency (SIDE) head Fernando de Santibañes; the former Labour Minister Alberto Flamarique; former Senators Alberto Tell, Remo Cons-tanzo, Ricardo Branda and Augusto Alasino; and former Parliament Secretary Mario Pontaquarto are accused for taking part in this scheme.

The trial — that began in August, 2012 — is in charge of the Federal Oral Court No. 3 and prosecutor Sabrina Namer, who called for six years in prison for the former head of state, De Santibañes, Alasino, Constanzo and Tell, and one year for Pontaquarto, who confessed a decade ago to delivering the money on the orders of De la Rúa.

The Anti-Corruption Office (OA) called for a six years and six months sentence for De la Rúa on the charges of graft and aggravated bribery. The same conviction was recommended for De Santibañes, under the accusation of “supplying funds from SIDE’s treasury for paying bribes.”

Meanwhile, the OA asked for a five-year prison sentence for Alasino, Constanzo and Tell.

Both accusers demanded the acquittal of Flamarique and Branda for lack of evidence.

A great number of witnesses were called throughout the trial, including anti-government CGT umbrella union head Hugo Moyano, former Tucumán Governor Ramón “Palito” Ortega and “Chacho” Álvarez, who said he was “sure” that bribes were paid to Justicialist Party (PJ) senators.

Pontaquarto said he was chosen by Senator José Genoud, UCR caucus leader, to deliver the money — some five million dollars — to different senators.

The case ended up breaking the Alianza, and led to the resignation of then vice-president Carlos “Chacho” Álvarez.

Genoud, who suffered from cancer, committed suicide in September 2008.

Herald staff

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