It’s something of a dream career advancement for women in politics. Long before former First Lady and Senator Hillary Clinton made her two (ultimately failed) bids to become the first female President of the United States, this has been accomplished by other women world leaders from years before. One such example is Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina. From national deputy to national senator, Cristina Fernandez got to the top when her husband Nestor Kirchner was elected President of the country in 2003. After serving a single term, Kirchner bowed out with his wife taking his place as candidate, winning and serving from 2007 to 2015. But her administration was plagued with scandals and questionable business deals, which now seem to be catching up to her at last.
BBC has it that de Kirchner has been charged with corruption by the Argentine courts with an indictment in her name and 11 other personages on counts of “illicit association” and “fraudulent administration”, mostly for accusations that she funneled all government public roadwork contracts to the Austral Constructions company, whose owner Lazaro Baez was a businessman with ties to her family. In addition, Judge Julian Ercolini has called for the freezing of de Kirchner’s assets, amounting to $633 million in all.
Fernandez de Kirchner however has denied complicity in any of the charges and insists that they were politically motivated to stick to her by the plotting of her successor, incumbent President Mauricio Macri. In a Twitter post response to the allegations, de Kirchner commented that crimes of “illicit association” were a favorite charge used by dictatorships as a legal concept that would persecute all opposition to the regime’s policies.
Should de Kirchner be found guilty of illicit association in court, she could face up to ten years imprisonment for it.
Investigation has been carried out on the former president in the preceding months, although no formal charges have been filed that would necessitate her arrest. In October de Kirchner went to court carrying documents on the national budget, claiming in her defense that the accounts listed on them were officially approved by both the country’s parliamentary bodies and the auditor-general.
A parallel investigation of Austral Constructions found that the company was granted about 50 different public works contracts for the duration of de Kirchner’s two terms in office. Meanwhile, former public works Secretary Julio Lopez, who is among the indicted, was already in jail for money laundering, after being caught throwing money bags carrying up to $ 9 million over the walls of a monastery.
Other associates of de Kirchner’s administration that have been charged were former planning Minister Julio de Vido and Austral Constructions’ Baez himself. The former president herself has the option to appeal the ongoing investigation process.
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