Buenos Aires – Argentine Judge Summons Former President Fernandez For Questioning In Fraud Probe

A judge on Friday summoned former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez to testify in a case involving alleged irregularities in dollar futures contracts carried out by the Central Bank during her administration, judicial officials said.

Judge Claudio Bonadio ordered Fernandez to testify on April 13 and also summoned 12 other people, including former Economy Minister Axel Kicillof and the erstwhile Central Bank governor, Alejandro Vanoli, the Judicial Information Center said.

Bonadio’s investigation stems from a complaint filed in November 2015, Fernandez’s last full month in office, against Vanoli and the Central Bank’s other then-directors by lawmakers Federico Pinedo, a member of current Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s Republican Proposal, or PRO, party, and Mario Negri, of the Radical Civic Union party (a PRO ally).

The complainants alleged then that the Central Bank was selling dollar futures at below-market rates to prop up the Argentine currency, pointing for example to March 2016 contracts that valued the peso at 10.65 pesos even though at the time the New York Stock Exchange had set a price of around 14 pesos per greenback for similar transactions.

Vanoli resigned in early December after Macri, who took office on Dec. 10, repeatedly called on him to step down.

In his three-page ruling Friday, Bonadio said based on evidence gathered thus far and witness testimony it has emerged that the Central Bank lost 7.57 billion pesos (around $485.6 million) between December 2015 and January of this year due to dollar futures positions sold in the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange’s futures market.

Additionally, as a result of those contracts, the Central Bank has open positions on dollar futures between February and June totaling 39.88 billion pesos ($2.56 billion), the ruling said.

In November, the then-leadership of the Central Bank said in a statement that its “normal and customary” intervention in the futures market was carried out in keeping with the law and the monetary authority’s charter. EFE

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