A Federal Court in Buenos Aires yesterday upheld bribery charges against Vice-President Amado Boudou. The ruling means Boudou moves a step closer to standing trial for alleged abuses of power while he was the minister of economy.
Boudou, 52, was charged with passive bribery and incompatible negotiations in the ‘Ciccone case’ last June.
He stands accused of exploiting his power as economy minister to award government contracts and negotiate favourable debt repayment terms for a bankrupt company in which he was allegedly handed a controlling stake. Ciccone Calcográfica SA, now Compañía de Valores Sudamericana (CSV), is one of two printing firms in Argentina that can produce bank notes, cheques, identity documents, lottery tickets, and other high security documents.
The vice-president has denied any misconduct. But Judges Jorge Ballestero, Eduardo Freiler, and Eduardo Farah unanimously decided otherwise, rejecting calls for an annulment filed by Boudou’s defence lawyers.
The ruling means that Boudou moves closer to a trial, pending further possible appeals to higher courts. This means that an eventual trial will not happen any time soon, according to Federal Judge Jorge Di Lello. “I estimate that it will go to trial after the election,” Di Lello told Radio Vorterix Friday.
Di Lello also said it would be better for everyone if they could resolve this in the upcoming months. “If the vice-president committed a crime, it’s healthier that he’s not vice-president,” Di Lello said. “If he didn’t commit a crime, it will help end the [criticism].”
Boudou, whose lawyer Diego Pirota resigned last week, will remain free while awaiting trial. If convicted, he could face up to six years in prison. The vice-president is also waiting to stand trial for allegedly using fake and forged documents to register a car in his name.
The court also confirmed the indictment of five other Argentines involved in the case: José María Núñez Carmona, Alejandro Vandenbroele, Rafael Resnick Brenner, Guido Forcieri, and owner of the firm Nicolás Ciccone.