Buenos Aires, Argentina : Argentina’s former Vice President Amado Boudou, 55, was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison and banned for life from elective office, for bribery and conducting business incompatible with public office.
Amado Boudou, who also served as economy minister during the 2007-2015 administration of President Cristina Fernandez, was also fined 90,000 pesos (3,214 U.S. dollars) and ordered to be immediately sent to a local jail.
Boudou was convicted by a federal criminal court in relation to the so-called Ciccone Case, which alleged he profited from awarding government contracts to a company called Ciccone Printing, the only private company enabled to print money apart from the state mint.
The case has been moving through the judicial system since at least 2012.
The investigation was launched in 2012 following reports in the local press. Boudou was accused of using shell companies and secret middlemen to gain control of a company that was given contracts to print Argentine currency as well as material for Fernandez’s election campaign.
In a separate case, Boudou was arrested in early November 2017 on charges of money laundering and illicit association. He was released from jail in January after a court ruled that he was unlikely to interfere in the case against him, which was the original reason he was jailed pending trial.
Others were also convicted of wrongdoing, including Nicolas Ciccone, the former owner of the printer.
The head of the national anti-corruption agency, Laura Alonso, hailed the “historic trial,” saying “for the first time in Argentina a vice president has been convicted.”
“The judicial branch is free to punish corruption,” she added.
Before Boudou’s sentence was read, he said in court proceedings broadcast on local television that the case was a “matter of revenge” by members of Fernandez’s left-leaning administration.
“Politicians that stay in the lane that the powerful decide walk without problems. Politicians that decide to change reality are persecuted, at first by the media and then by the legal system,” Boudou said. “This is a matter of revenge.”
The ruling came days after local newspaper La Nacion published the contents of notebooks kept by a driver in Fernandez’s administration, in which he detailed transporting millions of dollars in bribe cash from construction executives to government officials.
Dozens of executives and officials have been arrested in the past week as part of that case.
Last week, authorities carried out raids and arrested at least a dozen business leaders and former government officials, while a local judge called on Fernandez to testify Aug. 13.
Some have compared it to “Operation Car Wash,” the widespread corruption probe that has shaken Brazil’s elite by uncovering billions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks and that has resulted in the jailing of many of its most powerful business leaders and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Fernandez is currently a senator, a post that grants her immunity from prosecution. She has not spoken publicly since the scandal that was originally reported in the local press broke out.
The former leader was indicted in 2016 and faces accusations in other cases involving alleged money laundering, possible illegal enrichment and fraud. She has denied wrongdoing.