Argentine Federal magistrate Luis Rodríguez has ordered Supreme Court accountancy experts to prepare a report on the 2012/13 Antarctic campaign including two tenders and extraordinary expenses all of which involving an estimated 30 million pesos, approximately 4 million dollars.
The tenders 77/2012 and 79/2012 involve air transport and other costs, totaling 10.4 and 6.8 million dollars, respectively. Magistrate Rodriguez also requested the experts determine an estimate of the 2012/13 Antarctica campaign cost and compare it with the two previous and the latest, and if it can the considered 'reasonable'.
Likewise the magistrate required that if the unforeseen costs not included in the tenders, coincide with the different inconveniences emerging from the 2012/13 campaign.
Of the extraordinary costs among others are repairing one of the helicopters that participated in the campaign, contracting more personnel for the vessels involved and the cost of chartering the Polar Pioneer.
The magistrate instructed that the auditing by the expert accountants be notified to those involved in the case, including former Defense minister Arturo Puricelli and his son Alejandro who was contracted as an advisor for the Antarctic operations.
The investigation extends to the son of the former minister since he was contracted in the framework of a technical assistance program signed between the University of Buenos Aires Economics School and the Defense ministry.
Prosecutor Ramiro Gonzalez charged Puricelli, his son Alejandro as well as other top officials from the Defense ministry. The prosecutor and magistrate are taking action on a complaint filed by opposition lawmaker Manuel Garrido.
Since the Argentine icebreaker Almirante Irizar caught fire and went to dry dock for yet unfinished repairs and allegedly huge over costs, the annual Antarctica campaign has had to contract foreign vessels and sir support, usually from a Russian company. Attempts to make use of some of the Argentine navy vessels for supplying bases and stations in summer has also been plagued with breakdowns (lack of maintenance) and over costs and suspicious tenders.