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Sat May 14, 2016, 04:20 PM

Argentine president's cousin seeks to divest himself of contractor IECSA to avoid criminal liability

Argentine Federal Judge Sebastián Casanello was asked to halt the impending sale of one of the country's largest public contractors, IECSA - a company belonging to President Mauricio Macri's cousin and trustee, Ángel Calcaterra.

The amicus brief was filed today by five legislators in the center-left Front for Victory (FpV) caucus in connection with an investigation being conducted by Casanello against a contractor associated with former Presidents Néstor and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Lázaro Báez.

Báez was charged by Casanello last month in a $5 million money laundering case involving the use of shell corporations to buy and sell currencies to generate income. Báez provided evidence to the court last week, however, that Calcaterra was in fact one of his business partners.

Calcaterra was given nominal ownership of IECSA by President Macri's father, Francisco Macri, when the younger Macri ran for Mayor of Buenos Aires in 2007. This transfer was effected to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest since IECSA is a leading municipal contractor as well.

IECSA's public contracts portfolio increased dramatically under Mayor Macri to $1.8 billion, making his cousin Argentina's third largest public contractor. Báez's Austral Construction was, despite his relationship to the Kirchners, only the country's 36th largest public contractor.

Nevertheless, Báez's friendship and hotel partnerships with the Kirchners made him the focus of numerous widely publicized investigations during Mrs. Kirchner's second term. The investigations intensified once their top political rival, current President Mauricio Macri, took office in December - particularly after Macri and a number of his family members and associates were named in the international Panama Papers scandal.

The amicus brief filed before Judge Casanello by the five FpV legislators - Héctor Recalde, Juliana di Tullio, María Teresa García, Carlos Kunkel, and Rodolfo Tailhade - indicates that "the impending sale of IECSA, and the resulting divestment of assets (by Calcaterra), seek to limit any liability that may arise during the investigation." They added that a court injunction barring the sale would follow the same criteria already adopted by the court in issuing its injunction against any transfer of assets on Báez's part.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.pagina12.com.ar/diario/elpais/1-299326-2016-05-14.html&prev=search

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