Argentina President: US ‘Vulture Funds’ Backed Nisman Before His Death

Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has gone on the offensive against her critics by claiming she is the target of a conspiracy between US “vulture funds,” Jewish community groups and the prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who died in suspicious circumstances earlier this year.

In a lengthy column published on her official website, Fernández alleges a close connection between pro-Israeli groups and individuals who, she says, were plotting to undermine her efforts to secure closer ties to Iran.

“We are facing a global modus operandi, which not only severely injures national sovereignty, but also generates international political operations of any type, shape and colour,” she writes in a post entitled “Everything has to do with everything.”

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Her comments follow massive street demonstrations over the death of Nisman, who was found with a bullet in his brain the day before he was due to allege in Congress that the president was covering up alleged Iranian involvement in the 1994 bombing of the Amia Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires because she wanted a trade deal with Tehran.

Fernández at first claimed that Nisman’s death was a suicide, then stated that he was most likely killed by rogue elements in the secret service who were plotting against her. The investigation into his death, meanwhile, remains bogged down in court, where conflicting forensic tests suggest it could have been either murder or suicide.

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The president’s latest column adds a new twist by alleging links between Nisman and US fund manager Paul Singer, who has been locked in a decade-long financial battle to collect $1.5bn from Argentina on defaulted foreign bonds held by an affiliate NML Capital.

Fernández says Nisman told leaders of the Delegation of Argentine Israeli Associations (Daia): “If necessary, Paul Singer will help us.” This is alleged to have happened two years ago when Nisman lobbied the body – which represents the country’s Jews – to mount a legal challenge a memorandum of understanding between Argentina and Iran.

Nisman and his supporters alleged that the memorandum was part of a conspiracy to cover up Iran’s involvement in the bombing in exchange for a trade deal – a charge denied by both Iran and Fernández.

The president’s allegations that Singer supported her critics were based on an article in the government-friendly newspaper Página 12 by Jorge Elbaum, a former executive director of Daia. Elbaum claimed Singer was funding opposition to the Iran-Argentina deal in Buenos Aires and Washington. The report says Singer also donated $3.6m between 2008 and 2014 to the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, a thinktank whose executive director Mark Dubowitz claims to be a friend of Nisman’s and which has produced several papers criticising Argentina’s policy on vulture funds and Tehran.

Fernández said she saw parallels between these activities and the Israeli government’s support for US members of Congress who aimed to block the recent US-Iran nuclear deal. In both cases, she said lobbyists and covert agencies organised financial attacks and media smear operations designed to destabilised governments.

“Any similarity is not coincidence,” she wrote. “Everything has to do with geopolitics and international power. Sometimes their effects can be on global peace, such as preventing the possibility of an agreement between the US and other powers with Iran on nuclear matters. Or those effects can be collateral, such as making impossible an agreement that would contribute bring truth and justice for victims of the Amia, after 21 years.”

A spokesman for Singer’s hedge fund Elliott Management denied the acccusations.
“The allegation that Mr Singer had any contact whatsoever with Mr Nisman is categorically false. This is just another desperate attempt by Cristina Kirchner to blame creditors for her administration’s multiplying scandals and failed economic policies,” the spokesman said.

Jewish leaders also responded angrily to the president’s claims. “It’s a lie,” said Daia’s vice-president Waldo Wolff. “It’s terrible, it’s incredible. If she believes this to be true she should present the evidence in court.”

Wolff said that Fernández’s charges are “a smokescreen” to cover up Nisman’s death.

But the legal case against Fernández, inspired by Nisman’s investigation, appeared to have suffered an almost fatal blow on Monday, when a prosecutor dismissed claims that the president helped shield Iranian officials allegedly behind the 1994 bombing.

Citing insufficient evidence to warrant further investigation, prosecutor Javier De Luca said: “There has been no crime.”

The case had earlier been rejected by both a federal judge and an appeals court.

Opinion polls show that about 70% of Argentinians believe Nisman was murdered – but that his death will never be solved.

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