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Argentina: De Vido Charged in Corruption Linked to Odebrecht

FILE - Argentina's then Planning Minister Julio de Vido waves to media as he leaves the Ministry of Mines and Energy in Brasilia, Brazil, April 20, 2012. De Vido was charged, April 1, 2018, in a case investigating corruption involving the Brazilian company Odebrecht.

An Argentine judge on Tuesday charged a former planning minister in a case involving Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction company at the center of a widespread Latin American corruption scandal.

Argentina's official Judicial Information Center said Tuesday that Julio De Vido and other former officials were charged with carrying out incompatible deals while in public office since 2005. De Vido is suspected of illegally favoring Odebrecht on multi-million-dollar contracts for the construction of gas pipelines. The charges could carry up to six years in prison.

Odebrecht officials have acknowledged paying bribes in numerous countries across the hemisphere and the scandals have brought the downfall of major business leaders and political figures. Last month, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned from Peru's presidency as he faced threats of impeachment from a hostile congress probing allegations he received almost $800,000 in payments a decade ago from Odebrecht.

De Vido turned himself to authorities in October after the lower house of Congress voted to remove his immunity from being detained. He is also being probed for possible embezzlement in another case involving a coal mine.

De Vido was one of the most influential ministers in the administration of former President Cristina Fernandez.

Since leaving office in 2015, Fernandez has been hit by corruption scandals and was indicted last year. She has acknowledged that some corruption took place during her administration, but denies any wrongdoing. Fernandez won a Senate seat during last year's midterm elections, which grants her immunity from arrest.