Argentina: Milei Predecessor, Former President Alberto Fernández, Charged with Corruption

Alberto Fernandez, Argentina's president, during a news conference at the Casa Rosada in B
Anita Pouchard Serra/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Prosecutors charged Argentina’s socialist former President Alberto Fernández on Thursday with embezzlement of funds as part of an investigation into irregularities in insurance contracting allegedly committed during his administration, which ended in December.

Fernández stands accused of having allegedly misappropriated funds by favoring certain brokers to mediate the management of insurance contracts for official dependencies during his government.

In addition to Fernández, the former CEO of the Nación Seguros insurance company Alberto Pagliano and broker Héctor Martínez Sosa – husband of the former president’s private secretary – also stand accused.

Argentine newspaper La Nación reported on Friday that before Fernández took office, the Argentine National Social Security Administration was under a self-insurance program, but in 2021, the former president ordered that all state insurance should be channeled through Nación Seguros, a company that contracted a broker and private companies.

The ongoing graft probe was launched in response to an extensive report published by the Argentine newspaper Clarín on February 24. The report revealed that Nación Seguros subcontracted an intermediate insurance company for Argentina’s ANSES Social Security office that netted a 17-percent benefit in commissions, an amount that is “three times higher than that of the market.”

The total commission earnings, according to Clarín, are estimated at 300 million Argentine pesos per month (roughly $356,000) and 20 billion pesos per year (roughly $23.7 million).

Following the report’s publication, Argentine lawyer Silvina Martínez filed a formal complaint on Wednesday regarding “alleged irregularities in the hiring of a broker and private companies” to mediate in the management of insurance in official agencies during Fernández’s government, leading to the charges.

Upon being charged, Fernández said he agreed with the case’s investigations, as, according to him, “he has not stolen anything” and did not “participate in negotiations.”

“I worship honesty. I am a public man. And I speak because I want to explain what happened to the people. I have not stolen anything nor have I participated in any business deal nor have I authorized any business deal,” Fernández said on Thursday during a local radio interview. “And this is not a business deal. They are affecting many good people.”

“It seems reasonable to me that it should be investigated. There is an accusation,” he continued. “The concept of imputation in journalistic terms sounds like an accusation. But in technical terms it means to investigate.”

Fernández asserted that if the case is investigated, the relevant authorities will realize “what a lie all of this is.”

“I don’t want anyone to believe that I am hiding from something. I did not take a penny of anything nor did I do business with anyone,” he said. “I didn’t take a single eraser from the State. I only took with me the enormous honor of being President of the Argentine people.”

Argentina’s Anti-Corruption office, recently established at the start of President Javier Milei’s presidency, announced on Thursday that it will move forward in court against Fernández over the insurance graft case.

Argentina's new president Javier Milei (L) gestures after receiving the presidential sash and baton from outgoing president Alberto Fernandez during his inauguration ceremony at the Congress in Buenos Aires on December 10, 2023. Libertarian economist Javier Milei was sworn in Sunday as Argentina's president, after a resounding election victory fueled by fury over the country's economic crisis. "I swear to God and country... to carry out with loyalty and patriotism the position of President of the Argentine Nation," he said as he took the oath of office, before outgoing President Alberto Fernandez placed the presidental sash over his shoulders. (Photo by ALEJANDRO PAGNI / AFP)

Argentina’s new president Javier Milei (L) gestures after receiving the presidential sash and baton from outgoing president Alberto Fernandez during his inauguration ceremony at the Congress in Buenos Aires on December 10, 2023 (ALEJANDRO PAGNI/AFP).

“We are not going to carry out ideological persecution, we are going to investigate acts of corruption, regardless of the names that appear along the way,” the head of the Anti-Corruption office Alejandro Melik told La Nación on Thursday.

Sources from the Anti-Corruption office told Clarín that a formal request to be plaintiffs has been made to the judge presiding over the case against Fernández, adding that once the request is resolved, the office will “request the measures of evidence that will allow us to establish what criminal maneuvers were committed.”

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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