Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio has prosecuted former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner for ‘improper management detrimental to the public administration’ over dollar future trades enacted by the Central Bank before the end of her term.
Ex-economy minister Axel Kicillof, former central bank head Alejandro Vanoli, and twelve other people have also been prosecuted.
The judge also ordered an embargo of $15m over each of their assets.
Judge Bonadio is investigating whether the Central Bank’s trading of dollar futures at a price below the market value at the time was a deliberate action to harm the future government.
The futures contracts, which fix an exchange rate for a future date, have reportedly cost the state millions of pesos as a result of the devaluation carried out after President Mauricio Macri took office.
In the ruling released today, Bonadio alleged that it was “unthinkable” that currency trades that would have an economic and political impact in the near future were carried out by the Central Bank without the prior approval of the national Executive.
“It is evident that the then president gave instructions – which were undoubtedly developed jointly – to her Economy Minister to carry out the financial operation,” reads the 147-page ruling.
On 13th April, Fernández presented a written statement to Bonadio, in which she called the case “arbitrary” and claimed the accusations were “absurd in both factual and legal terms”.
Fernández also noted that she was not included as a suspect in the original accusations made by Cambiemos legislators Mario Negri (UCR) and Federico Pinedo (Pro), nor in the report filed by prosecutor Eduardo Taiano.
In another written statement presented a day earlier, Kicillof stated that: “there is no crime, neither corruption nor bribery crimes by no official from the Central Bank or the previous government.” He also added: “All central banks in the world carry out control practices; it is a normal and regular operation in foreign exchange policy.”
The defendants argue that the case does not have merit because the losses incurred by the state came as a result of the devaluation implemented by Macri’s government.
Following a counter accusation based on that principle, officials in the current administration are also being investigated for allegedly profiting from the currency trades as a result of currency policy they had knowledge of or influence over.
At the start of May, federal prosecutor Jorge Di Lello formally requested a court investigation into Deputy Cabinet Chief Mario Quintana, Central Bank director Pablo Curat, and presidential adviser José Torello.
According to the accusation, in which Fernández requested to be a plaintiff, Quintana may have been one of the officials that intervenes in determining the reference price at which the dollar contracts were paid out. Before taking office in December, Quintana was director of Farmacity and CEO of Pegasus Fund, which allegedly purchased US$11.5m worth of dollar future trades.
Di Lello also called to investigate whether Central Bank President Federico Sturzenegger and even Judge Bonadio himself committed a crime by allowing the future dollar contracts to be paid out.
Federal Judge Sergio Torres must rule on whether to accept these investigations or not.