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Investigation unveils fraud with Malvinas war veterans' pension

Sunday, February 3rd 2008 - 20:00 UTC
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The Argentine federal justice has opened an inquiry into the Malvinas war veterans' pension scheme following on claims that at least 700, and possibly thousands, of non combatants are collecting monthly payments.

The original claim was filed by an Air Force veteran Ramon Borgobello who in 2005 while queuing to collect his pension saw several people he never recalled as having been in the conflict. Each Malvinas war veteran collects a monthly check of approximately 600 US dollars, which if the claims proves true, the Argentine treasury has been loosing millions on non merited payments. Borgobello claims that the list of people undeservedly collecting pension money is far longer since "in the Islands we were approximately 8.000 and 25.000 figure as veterans". The information was double checked with the Malvinas Staff office which was located in 1982 in the Islands and had 8.231 registered combatants. Borgobello's claims were also supported by the Malvinas Veterans Association from La Plata who formally made the presentation before the Social Security Investigations Prosecutor's Office. Prosecutor Guillermo Marijuán ordered to cross check the list of the pensions' beneficiaries of the three services who every month collect payments with the names of those who actually were on active duty in the 1982 conflict. Apparently Marijuán confirmed the claims: 2.453 pension beneficiaries were not registered in the veterans' lists. However, of that number 1.768 were paid to family members of former combatants who were entitled to collect the pension according to law. But so far the remaining 685 can't be accounted for. The money involved in the "false" pensions payments is over five million US dollars. The total number of Argentine losses during the South Atlantic conflict was 649, of which 323 who went down with the General Belgrano when she was torpedoed and sunk, and another 326 in actual fighting on the Islands. Another 350 veterans are estimated to have committed suicide unable to cope with conditions after the war. According to Buenos Aires press reports criminal justice will open two different probes: one against "pensioners" collecting the money and another against those who facilitated the adulteration of documents that enabled them to figure as veterans. Pensions begun to be awarded in 1990 to all former conscripts that had effectively participated in combat actions during the South Atlantic conflict and to those civilians who were in the locations were such combat actions took place between April 2 and June 14 of 1982. In 1996 the benefit was made extensive to all former conscripts who were in the Islands in the conflict theatre. Under President Nestor Kirchner Malvinas war veterans pensions were made equivalent to three minimum civilian pensions.

Categories: Politics, Argentina.

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