Argentine VP cleared in one of eight fraud cases

Buenos Aires (AFP) –


Argentina's top appeals court on Tuesday dismissed a fraud case against Vice President Cristina Kirchner.

Kirchner and several ex-government officials were accused in October 2015, when she was president, of fraud in relation to futures contracts for the purchase of dollars.

It was one of eight corruption cases facing Kirchner related to her two presidential terms from 2007-15.

The Cassation Chamber unanimously ruled that the defendants had no case to answer.

The case against Kirchner claimed that ahead of the 2015 presidential election, the dollars in the futures contracts were sold below market value. This would be highly lucrative for the buyer.

Kirchner could not stand in that election as she had already served two consecutive terms but she endorsed fellow Peronist Daniel Scioli, who subsequently lost to the market-friendly Mauricio Macri in a run-off.

Before the 2015 election, the central bank agreed to foreign currency sales in a bid to discourage devaluation of the currency during a period of currency controls.

But when Macri lifted those controls after he was elected, the peso plunged by 30 percent, resulting in a loss of 55 billion pesos (around $5.5 billion at the time) for the central bank.

But the court said that an analysis conducted by Supreme Court accounting experts in 2020 found that there were no irregularities nor detriment to the central bank.

When appearing in court by video link last month, Kirchner claimed the case was politically motivated ahead of the 2015 election.

"This is not only a leading case of lawfare but also the meddling and manipulation of judicial power in the electoral processes and Argentine politics," said the veteran firebrand.

Lawfare is a form of political manipulation that uses legal means to discredit or harm someone for political purposes.

Kirchner's former economy minister Axel Kicillof, the current governor of Buenos Aires province, and the ex-president of the central bank, Alejandro Vanolli, were among 11 other defendants in the case.