An Argentine court will investigate former President Nestor Kirchner, the husband and predecessor of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, over possible irregularities in government contracts, court officials confirmed on Tuesday in Buenos Aires.
Kirchner and Planning Minister Julio De Vido, a member of Mrs. Kirchner's cabinet who served under Kirchner from 2003 to 2007, were accused by opposition leader Elisa Carrio of conspiracy to abuse their public posts. Carrio took evidence compiled by legislators from her Civic Coalition party to the courts, where prosecutor Geardo Pollicita and federal judge Julian Ercolini agreed to launch a probe into several Kirchner-era public works contracts, gambling concessions and Argentina's ties to political ally Venezuela, among other matters. De Vido is considered one of the Kirchner's couple most trusted aides and advisors with direct access to both of them. He manages the distribution of federal funds which has become the mechanism by which the Kirchner couple has built a powerful political base. Under economic emergency legislation the Kirchner administrations have deliberately and repeatedly sent budgets to Congress with low growth estimates which given Argentina's five year boom at "Chinese" expansion rates, has liberated huge sums of money of "free disposability". According to Judge Ercolini other current and former government officials will also be investigated. There was no immediate reaction from the government or Kirchner. Earlier this year, Mrs. Kirchner was surprised by a US judicial investigation related to a suitcase filled with 800,000 USD in cash a Venezuelan-American citizen brought to Argentina. Secretly taped conversations suggest the money was meant to fund Mrs. Krichner's presidential campaign. Fernandez called the probe "garbage" and denied any wrongdoing. However a Miami federal court has sentenced at least five people in relation to the case which remains open. The Kirchner couple and associates have also been accused of land speculation in their natural turf, the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz where apparently they were granted big patches of land at ridiculously low prices. Mr. Kirchner allegedly has also lobbied strongly in favour of cronies and friends in the gambling industry. Ms. Carrio polled second in last year's president election, far behind Mrs. Kirchner.