July 29, 2014
End of the beginning II
While so much remains to be resolved concerning the key “follow the money” question in the Ciccone mint company case, the first real day of the court (as opposed to media) investigation was reassuring in many ways — not least because of the relatively sober behaviour of its central figure Vice-President Amado Boudou, especially when compared with his loose cannon outbursts only last Thursday (not to mention his insistence on removing all levels of the probe right up to the attorney-general 26 months ago). If Boudou for almost the first time refrained from either attempting to derail the case or changing the subject, Judge Ariel Lijo also seems to have precised his focus. Instead of meandering into the embezzlement and other parallel charges against Boudou, Lijo must be concentrated now on lining up all the other suspects (including the Ciccone family itself, as an appeals court ruled weeks ago) — in short, the Ciccone case remains very much the Ciccone case instead of being transformed into the Boudou case as various political and media interests might prefer.
The serious tone of Monday’s marathon proceedings on both sides does much to vindicate this case finally passing to the courtroom where it belongs but this does not suffice to answer many of the questions concerning the murky purchase of Ciccone from its original owners. Boudou himself seemed to limit his own role to acceding to a “singular” AFIP revenue bureau request for an opinion on special treatment of Ciccone’s tax arrears — otherwise he implied that this was a deal between the Ciccones (veterans of the “contractual fatherland”) and other equally dubious businessmen about which he himself was completely ignorant. Yet in this day and age there is no need for the resolution of this case to depend either on Boudou’s word or media speculation — a relentless “follow the money” approach (already a long trail with some way to go) and the truth will come out.
Long a scandal here, Boudou’s court appearance seems to have installed this case at that level in much of the international press, which (with limited space for the story) generally boiled it down to the historic first of an Argentine vice-president having to answer to accusations of corruption before a judge. But rather than the climax of a scandal, we need to see this as the beginning of a court investigation into a dubious business transaction, verifying solid financial data and according to the letter of the law.