Federal Judge Julián Ercolini ruled on Friday that former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner be sent for trial, accused of heading an “illicit association” with businessman Lázaro Báez and several others in order to defraud the state.
Fernández de Kirchner, now a senator for Buenos Aires province, will stand oral trial before the Federal Tribunal along with 20 other plaintiffs, among them Báez, former Planning minister and current deputy, Julio De Vido, his Public Works secretary during the Kirchnerite governments, José López, former secretary of the National Highway Department Nelson Periotti, and Carlos Kirchner, cousin of ex-president Néstor Kirchner.
According to the prosecutor, Fernández de Kirchner, Báez, and the rest of the group orchestrated a scheme to extract cash from the state through the offering of public works projects in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz.
Austral Construcciones, owned by Báez, received 80 percent of those projects from 2004 and 2015, the prosecution claims, or 52 contracts worth 46 billion pesos. Thus, Báez’s personal net worth surged 12,127 percent through the acquisition of assets worth US$205 million. Yet, the greenbacks didn’t just end up in Báez’s personal bank account, they also filled the personal vaults of the former presidential family, prosecutors argue.
The original complaint, which kickstarted the case, was presented by lawmaker Elisa Carrió.
Fernández de Kirchner, who maintains her innocence, requested earlier in the year that she be sent to trial "as soon as possible" in order to clear her name. The date of the trial has yet to be set.