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Former Argentine President Fernandez Indicted on Corruption Charges

  • VOA News

FILE - Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner smiles during a ceremony on her last day in office at the Casa Rosada Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez has been indicted on charges of directing a corruption scheme while attempting to hide millions of dollars in a convent.

A federal judge charged Fernandez and other officials of her administration, including a public works secretary who was arrested in June, with associating illegally to steal public funds that were meant for public road projects between 2003 and 2015.

Also named in the indictment were former Planning Minister Julio de Vido, former Public Works Secretary Jose Lopez and Lazaro Baez, whose construction company allegedly benefited from the scheme.

Baez was arrested in June after attempting to stash millions of dollars in a Catholic convent outside of Buenos Aires.

The judge froze up to $633 million in each of the defendant's assets, although it is uncertain if their assets are valued that high.

Fernandez has denied the charges, accusing current Argentine President Mauricio Macri of manipulating the judicial system to persecute her. The former president has also asked for an audit of the public works contracts during her administration.

Her attorney, Gregorio Dalbon, has said he is not concerned about the charges and would appeal.

An illicit association conviction can warrant a possible 10-year prison sentence while a fraudulent administration conviction can lead to a six-year sentence.

Fernandez's late husband, Nestor Kirchner, was president of the South American nation from 2003 until 2007.

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