Amado Boudou’s lawyers vow to appeal indictment, harshly criticize Judge Lijo
Prosecutor expresses satisfaction with Judge Lijo’s document released late on Friday
Vice-President Amado Boudou’s lawyers did not wait. Hours after Federal Judge Ariel Lijo indicted President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s number two close to midnight on Friday, Boudou’s lawyers vowed to appeal and harshly criticized the magistrate, claiming he was only following media speculation.
Boudou himself remained silent yesterday as he continued his official trip to Cuba.
For his part, federal prosecutor Jorge Di Lello told the Herald that Lijo had made the right decision by indicting Boudou and five other defendants — including the founder of Ciccone Calcográfica mint company and his son-in-law for bribery.
The focus agains the judge comes after Boudou said he wanted to expand his testimony in the case.
Boudou was also accused of carrying out negotiations incompatible with public office, as had been requested by Di Lello in February.
Although Boudou is not in the country, his lawyers followed his instructions, reigniting the controversy he had with Lijo earlier this month when the judge summoned him to give explanations over the transfer of the company that prints the country’s peso notes.
Hours before Lijo confirmed all speculation and indicted Boudou, the vice-president requested to expand his testimony so he could talk about what he saw as the political grounds of the investigation that he is facing. The move, likely to reignite the face-off between Boudou and Lijo, could still take place but could not change his legal situation.
“Evidence and testimonies were distorted as well as circumstances that are not the subject of the criminal investigation,” lawyers Diego Pirota and Eduardo Durañona said in a press release hours after it was known that Lijo had decided to indict the vice-president for allegedly seizing the Ciccone Calcográfica mint company.
Boudou’s lawyers complained because the judge said that the vice-president and his childhood friend and financial partner José María Núñez Carmona used The Old Fund — a company founded in 2008 — to seize the printing company. The Old Fund was headed by lawyer Alejandro Vandenbroele, whom Lijo described as Boudou’s front man.
The Old Fund had billed Formosa province in 2009 for the services of restructuring the provincial debt. That information was used by Lijo to show that Boudou, Núñez Carmona were financial partners and that’s why Pirota and Durañona said that Lijo included circumstances that they said had no direct relationship with the Ciccone Calcográfica mint case.
The judge and the media
After Judge Lijo summoned him for questioning, Boudou appeared on the Kirchnerite news programme 6,7,8 to defend himself and criticize the magistrate’s “close relationship with opposition media.” Yesterday it was his lawyers’ turn to repeat the vice-president’s words.
“(Lijo) devoted his resolution to tell a made-up story,” they argued, saying that the judge did not focus on real evidence.
Pirota also complained because “Lijo issued his resolution out of the blue.” The file was uploaded at the Supreme Court’s Centre for Judicial Information website on Friday at 10.50pm.
“Lijo had already made that decision and he had already written the indictment resolution,” Pirota and Durañona said. Indeed, court sources had told the Herald earlier in the week that the indictment was seen as imminent.
Boudou had already accused Lijo of having decided to indict him even before questioning him, which eventually took place on June 9 for more than seven hours. At the time Boudou said that he would not step down even if he was indicted, a decision by Lijo that some of the opposition media predicted would happen.
Boudou’s lawyers vowed to appeal the indictment before the Criminal Appeals Court. That tribunal was in the eye of the storm last month when opposition lawmakers Patricia Bullrich and Laura Alonso reported that they were preparing to remove Lijo from the investigation. On June 9, the same day that Boudou appeared before Lijo, the members of the first court of the Appeals Court backed the investigation led by Lijo but called on him to also follow the money trail, which is now being investigated by the judge. However, sources linked to the case told this newspaper that the probe could take months and that the results of the investigation would not affect the vice-president’s legal situation.
Nicolás Ciccone’s lawyer Maximiliano Rusconi also complained yesterday due to Lijo’s decision to indict the founder of the printing company on bribery charges and accused the magistrate of violating criminal procedures.
“If the judge did something wrong, the Criminal Appeals Court has a chance to fix it,” Rusconi said, confirming that he was going to challenge Lijo’s resolution.
For the magistrate, Ciccone and his son-in-law Guillermo Reinwick, tried to illicitly obtain a public official’s help to lift the bankruptcy the company filed in 2010, following a request filed by the AFIP tax bureau led by Ricardo Echegaray. In February, Prosecutor Di Lello requested Lijo to summon Echegaray so that he could explain the role the agency played in the Ciccone mint company’s bankruptcy and in the payment plan given to the company to regularize its situation to receive an AFIP authorization to reinitiate printing.
“Lijo has yet to define some pending issues, including Echegaray and the money trail,” the prosecutor highlighted yesterday.
Filing an appeal
Boudou lawyers will be filing an appeal request on Friday before the Appeals Court to try to overturn the vice- president’s indictment.
Lijo accuses Boudou and his friend Núñez Carmona, who on Thursday appeared before the magistrate but refused to answer his questions, of being the real owners of The Old Fund, the company that obtained the 70 percent of the mint company in 2010, that then changed its name to Companía de Valores Sudamericana (CVS).
For the judge, Boudou met in 2010 at the Telefe network studio with Ciccone and his son-in-law. The meeting was arranged by former Telefe manager Gabriel Bianco, Reinwick’s neighbour at the Pacheco Golf gated community and a friend of Boudou’s. A second meeting with the members of the Ciccone family was proven by Lijo at I Fresh Market, a restaurant located in the city’s neighbourhood of Puerto Madero, where the vice-president lives.
Lijo believes that Núñez Carmona took a leading role in the negotiations with Ciccone as Boudou was prevented due to his position as a public official.
Lijo is also certain that lawyer Alejandro Vandenbroele was the vice-president’s front man, accepting testimony given by Vandenbroele’s former wife Laura Muñoz. However, Lijo could not prove that Boudou and Vandenbroele knew each other, and considered that evidence of the fact that Vandenbroele was Boudou’s frontman.
In December 2013, Ciccone and Reinwick were witnesses in the case but Lijo changed his mind and decided to indict them, following the prosecutor’s suggestion. The judge believes that Ciccone and his relatives were perfectly aware that they were in the middle of an illegal negotiation as the only compensation for the transfer was a US$50,000 dollar payment, requested by Nicolás Ciccone’s brother, Héctor. For Lijo, that reveals that the Economy Ministry — then led by Boudou — was behind the manoeuvre.
Another alleged evidence of those ties is the fact that the former Ciccone mint company printed the ruling Victory Front ballots for 2011 presidential elections.
“It’s evident that Amado Boudou, who was then running to become vice-president, was linked to this company that specialized in printing ballots and was hired informally to do it,” Lijo wrote. The company was not authorized to print due to its unstable financial situation.
“It has to be highlighted that the majority of the people involved in the investigation are part of a group whose common denominator was the vice-president,” the magistrate highlighted.