Chauffeur’s notebooks could send dozens of Argentina’s political and business leaders to prison 


A chauffeur who kept notes of bribes involving high-ranking officials in Argentina could unravel a decade-long corruption scandal.

It is a mystery why Oscar Centeno, driver to a former planning secretary, ‘meticulosly’ detailed allegedly illicit payments involving top government officials.

But it could lead to convictions of political leaders from administrations run by president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and late husband Néstor Kirchner.   

La Nación newspaper published an investigation on Aug 1 revealing evidence from eight notebooks kept by Centeno.

He was former chauffeur to planning secretary Roberto Baratta, and kept records on bags of cash being delivered to political leaders between 2005 and 2015.

His notebooks included the amounts, times and addresses of where the money was sent and even how much the bags weighed.

The total value is said to account for $53 million in bribes.

Since the books came to light, 16 men — including prominent business heads in the country — have been arrested.

The alleged payments took place during the presidencies of Kirchner and Fernández, who could be the next to face arrest.

She has been summoned for questioning on Aug 13 before judge Claudio Bonadio who is overseeing the case.

According to Bloomberg, Bonadio has already Fernández’s immunity and allow investigators to raid her properties for potential evidence. 

Fernández, who plans to seek another presidential term in 2019, says she is being persecuted by political enemy Mauricio Macri, who has been president since 2015.

Last week it was reported businessman Juan Carlos de Goycoechea could testify in the case after surrendering to police admitting he paid ‘contributions to election campaigns’. 

Goycoechea once headed construction and energy group Isolux Corsan and said he was pressured by the planning ministry to pay millions to the former administration.

He denied however that the amounts did not total $12.8 million cited by Bonadio.

Centeno meanwhile was arrested but freed two days later after entering the ‘accused collaborator’ program, which provides legal protection for him and his family.

The retired army officer admitted being the author of the eight notebooks but claims he burnt the originals on a backyard grill last May.

A friend of Centeno’s handed copies of the notes to La Nación journalist Diego Cabot, who led the paper’s investigation in January. 


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