Argentine leader says corruption allegation politically driven

President is under investigation for tax irregularities at a family-owned hotel

Argentine leader says corruption allegation politically driven

World Bulletin/News Desk

Opposition lawmakers are behind an investigation into alleged tax irregularities by a hotel operator owned by the family of the country’s president, Cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich said Friday.

The probe has “political intentions,” Capitanich said during a televised press conference.

He spoke a day after federal judge Claudio Bonadio asked the national tax agency to hand over tax returns of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, her late husband, her two children and others linked to Hotesur, a company that runs hotels including the 103-room Alto Calafate Hotel Patagonico in the southern province of Santa Cruz.

The tax agency complied with the request Friday, Clarin newspaper reported, citing unnamed judicial sources.

The tax irregularities are the latest corruption allegations to hit the ruling Front for Victory party that is struggling to sustain popularity as a recession, inflation, and rising unemployment make it harder for Argentineans to get by each month.

Bonadio is looking into the tax irregularities allegations and the failure to present financial returns, in a case brought by Margarita Stolbizer, an opposition congresswoman.

Bonadio also is investigating links between Fernandez de Kirchner and Lazaro Baez, a businessman whose construction company is suspected to have benefited from his political ties to win public works contracts.

Earlier this month, Bonadio ordered a raid of Hotesur to find documents that might expose tax discrepancies.  

Capitanich, however, reiterated the official rebuttal to the accusations, saying they are false.

Roberto Feletti, a ruling party congressman, took the denial further Friday, saying that Bonadio and Stolbizer are acting like “coup mongers.”

Bonadio “is a judge without credibility,” Feletti said on Radio Nacional Rock.

Since the raid, judge Julian Ercolini launched an investigation into claims by Marcelo Fuentes, a senator in the ruling party, that Bonadio may be guilty of illicit enrichment, money laundering and abuse of power.

Also, Justice Secretary Julian Alvarez said this week that he will file complaints against Bonadio before the Magistrates Council, accusing him of improper performance of his duties. If found to be true, it could cost the judge his job.

Alvarez added that Hotesur’s suspected irregularities are so mild that they are equivalent to running a red light, adding that another 40,000 companies are also behind in filing their balance sheets.

In response to the government’s reaction, Stolbizer, the whistle-blower in the Hotesur case, said she is now under investigation for suspected illicit enrichment.

“The government’s responses are obvious,” she said on Radio Mitre. “It shows that we have stepped on an anthill and that these issues are starting to hurt them.”

 

Last Mod: 28 Kasım 2014, 23:05
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