Opposition calls for Boudou to take leave
After graft investigation proceeds, judge to decide wheter to question vice-president
Calls for Vice President Amado Boudou to take leave of absence from office continued to grow yesterday among opposition politicians after the Federal Criminal Appeals Court ordered the continuation of an investigation into his role in the sale of the former Ciccone Calcográfica minting company.
The leaders who joined the choir were Radical Party (UCR) president Senator Ernesto Sanz, Renewal Front lawmaker Graciela Camaño, UNEN Broad Front leader Margarita Stolbizer and UCR lawmakers Miguel Bazze and Manuel Garrido, who coincided that the vice-president should leave his post over accusations that he used his government position to inappropriately influence business operations in favour of the Ciccone Calcográfica company.
However, Boudou’s attorney Diego Pirota completely denied this was the case, warning of the “influence of the media” in the investigation and assured that if the vice-president wasn’t “in jail” it must be because “there weren’t any judicial reasons for him to be there.”
The renewed calls for Boudou’s removal by opposition politicians were initiated after a ruling by Court No.4 of the Cassation Court — presided over by judges Gustavo Hornos, Juan Carlos Gemignani and Mariano Borinsky — against the request filed by the vice-president’s lawyer to discontinue the probe against him.
“Taking into account these facts and the seriousness of the situation, the vice-president should request to be put on temporary leave and comply with the justice system until it determines what really happened in this case,” said Sánz. The UCR leader added that Boudou has been excluded from the inner circle of power of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner due to this issue.
Following the same line, Bazze (UCR lower house bloc vice-president) urged Boudou “to remove himself from the post and cooperate with the judicial investigation.”
For his part, Garrido considered that “if the case against the vice-president progresses, his situation and him continuing to be in that position will become complicated.” He warned that if the court calls on Boudou to be questioned, the case will end up turning into a formal investigation.
Meanwhile, Stolbizer recalled that her party had requested “for a long time that (Boudou) be removed from government” due to his involvement in the Ciccone affair.
“At some point, the president will have to take full ownership over her own errors and decisions,” said the Broad Front-UNEN leader, while the Renewal Front’s Camaño demanded that the government official remove himself from his post in some form or another.
“Like all suspects, with some issue irrefutably proven, the vice-president should act ethically and confront this situation as a gentleman, from a place were he doesn’t taint public office,” she emphasized.
However, the criticisms were dismissed by Boudou’s lawyer as media talk. “They can say or think what they want, write what freedom of expression permits them to write, but this is not their judicial case,” Pirota insisted.
The City legislature’s Peronist party president Víctor Santa María recognized that “any type of political scandal” is not good for the Peronist party. “Any political scandal isn’t good, I don’t know the issue well enough. But I know Amado (Boudou) and he seems to me a good political leader, that worked hard as Economy Minister and when he was the head of the ANSeS social security agency,” concluded Santa María.
Boudou has been in the eye of the storm over several corruption allegations. The vice-president is accused of having inappropiately helped Ciccone Calcográfica lift its bankrupcy while he was Fernández de Kirchner’s Economy Minister in 2010 through a beneficial payment plan so that the company could be transferred to an investment fund allegedly linked to the vice-president. There are also suspicions that the company was then favoured with contracts from the national government.
In February, Federal Prosecutor Jorge Di Lello requested Federal Judge Ariel Lijo to summon Boudou to be questioned for his role in the Ciccone Calcográfica minting company’s sale but Lijo has not made a decision yet.