The Argentine judge overseeing an investigation into the so-called notebook scandal has indicted billionaire Paolo Rocca as part of a graft case. Shares of steel pipe-maker Tenaris SA, in which he is the majority shareholder, plunged in Italy.
The judge set a US$ 103 million bond and forbade Rocca from leaving the country. Shares of Tenaris dropped as much as 9.3% to 10.64 Euros in Milan on Wednesday, its lowest price since April 2016. They fell as much as 11% in New York on Tuesday.
Rocca, probably Argentina's richest businessman and whose net worth is estimated at US$ 8 billion lost more than US$ 100 million on Tuesday’s stock drop.
The sprawling notebook scandal case, centered on bribes allegedly paid by businesses to secure contracts from the administration of former President Cristina Fernandez, has already ensnared dozens of business owners and politicians.
Argentine media reported on Tuesday that Rocca was charged with illicit association and payment of bribes.
I was not involved in the payments, nor did I authorize them or was I aware of them, Rocca told local media outlet Perfil.
The office of Claudio Bonadio, the federal judge who issued the indictment, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The notebook scandal broke in August after a local news outlet published diaries kept by a former government employee. The employee claimed the notebooks documented millions in bribes paid to officials of former administrations of Fernandez and her late husband and former president, Nestor Kirchner.