Former Planning minister Julio De Vido was formally charged this morning with favouring the giant Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht for contracts related to the construction of gas pipelines worth US$2.3 billion.
The official Judicial Information Centre said Judge Daniel Rafecas had charged De Vido and former Energy secretary Daniel Cameron with carrying out incompatible deals while in public office, citing "acts that tended to benefit Odebrecht."
Rafecas said De Vido, a key minister in both the Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administrations, and Cameron are suspected of illegally favouring Odebrecht on multi-million-dollar contracts for the construction of liquefied natural gas projects between 2006 and 2008.
The charges could carry up prison terms of up to six years in jail.
Odebrecht officials have acknowledged paying bribes in numerous countries across the hemisphere, including paying at least US$35 million in Argentina alone. The scandals across the region have prompted 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 US$800,000 in payments a decade ago from Odebrecht.
De Vido, currently behind bars, 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 on a list that the US Department of Justice gave to Argentine prosecutors alleging possible participation in bribery scehemes related to wrongdoing by Odebrecht.