Cristina Fernandez Kirchner charged in corruption case

Cristina Kirchner accused of corruption and slapped with $630m asset freeze linked to government contracts.

    Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the former Argentine president, has been charged in a corruption case and slapped with a $630m asset freeze over public tenders awarded to a businessman friend during her administration.

    Federal judge Julian Ercolini approved charges on Tuesday of illicit association and fraudulent administration against Fernandez and two of her erstwhile aides: Julio de Vido, ex-planning minister, and Jose Lopez, former public works secretary.

    Also named was businessman Lazaro Baez, whose Austral Construcciones company allegedly benefited from irregular contracts.

    The ruling published by official Centre of Judicial Information said the defendants are accused of associating to illegally take public funds meant for public works between May 2003 and December 2015, largely in the southern province of Santa Cruz.

    The judge said 52 contracts worth about $2.9bn were assigned to Baez's companies at prices that averaged 15 percent above the original budget.

    Kirchner's late husband Nestor Kirchner was president from 2003 until 2007.

    Kirchner made no immediate comment on the charge, but she has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and invited an audit of public works contracts during her administration.

    READ MORE: Argentina discloses poverty data after three-year gap

    Gregorio Dalbon, Kirchner's lawyer, said on his Twitter account that he was not worried about the indictment and said he would appeal.

    Illicit association carries a possible 10-year prison sentence, while fraudulent administration can lead to six years behind bars.

    Since leaving office in December 2015, Kirchner has alleged that she is the victim of persecution by her conservative successor, Mauricio Macri.

    In May, a judge indicted Kirchner on charges of manipulating currency exchange futures markets, allegedly causing economic damage to the government.

    SOURCE: News agencies


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