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Argentina's Macri Pledges Transparency as Prosecutors Probe Family Ties


FILE - Argentina's President Mauricio Macri addresses the media during a news conference in Buenos Aires, Feb. 16, 2017.

FILE - Argentina's President Mauricio Macri addresses the media during a news conference in Buenos Aires, Feb. 16, 2017.

President Mauricio Macri said on Wednesday he would issue decrees in the coming days aimed at cracking down on conflicts of interest in Argentina's politics, as prosecutors pushed to investigate more of his family's business ties.

In a speech marking the opening of a new legislative session, Macri also asked Congress to pass a "business responsibility law" to hold companies legally responsible for corruption, and allow them to strike leniency deals.

"I want everything to be transparent and open, and for nobody to doubt the decisions this president makes," said Macri, son of one of Argentina's richest men, businessman Franco Macri.

Federal prosecutors have brought cases against the president and his family over allegations of various conflicts of interest, putting political pressure on his center-right "Let's Change" coalition before legislative elections in October. Macri is banking on success at the polls to continue his reform agenda.

Last month, Macri was criticized over a deal his government reached to resolve a 15-year old debt the postal service incurred when it was owned by Macri's father, with prosecutors claiming the deal benefited his family.

Macri said at the time the deal had been handled legally, but apologized for a lack of transparency and revoked the agreement. He said he would remain "as far away as possible" from any government decision involving his father.

On Wednesday, however, a federal prosecutor asked a judge for permission to investigate Mauricio Macri and other officials over allegations that they favored Colombian airline Avianca in a plan to open more air routes in Argentina. His father's company sold another airline to Avianca Holdings last year.

Members of Macri's administration and his family have also come under scrutiny over a bribery scandal involving Brazil's largest builder Odebrecht, which has admitted to paying bribes across Latin America.

In January, prosecutors announced they were investigating whether Macri's spy chief Gustavo Arribas received a bribe from Odebrecht SA, a charge Arribas has denied.

Odebrecht declined to comment on active investigations.

Brazilian newspaper Estado de S. Paulo reported on Monday that Odebrecht would say in a leniency agreement that builder Iecsa, owned by the president's cousin, participated in a bribery scheme to win a contract for a rail project during the previous government.

Iecsa could not immediately be reached for comment but Argentine media reported that the company said it was unaware of irregularities.

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