Argentine ex-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has – for the third time – been called for questioning under the framework of so-called notebooks graft case. Key business leaders and ex-public officials were also summoned, with prosecutors and judges probing alleged corruption and bribery centred on the ex-head of state's government.
Businessmen must report federal Judge Claudio Bonadio and federal prosecutor Carlos Stornelli in the next three months, judicial sources said, with hearings due to begin the latter part of February.
The case, which is focused on detailed records of alleged crimes written by Oscar Centeno, a former driver and chauffeur detailed to the Planning Ministry, is one of Argentina's most high-profile corruption probes to date and focuses on bribes and corruption related to public works contracts.
Courthouse sources said Judge Bonadio summoned the sitting senator for Buenos Aires province and 100 other individuals on Wednesday afternoon, as investigators explore alleged major corruption and bribery ring centered on the Kirchnerite administrations that led Argentina from 2003 to 2015.
Among the business leaders called for questioning are President Mauricio Macri's cousin, Ángelo Calcaterra, formerly of the IESCA construction firm and Carlos Wagner, the former chief of the Argentine Chamber of Construction. Businessman Aldo Benito Roggio must also appear before the court, along with Juan Chediack, a businessman-turned-state witness. Disgraced businessman Cristóbal López, owner of Grupo Indalo also appears on the list.
Former public officials were also cited, including ex-planning Minister and Kirchnerite ally Julio De Vido, who has been jailed since 2017 on other charges, and his close ally Roberto Baratta, as well as ex-public works secretary José López, also currently jailed on additional charges.
Cristina Fernández is scheduled to appear for questioning on February 25, a day before a trial opens against her addressing alleged fraud in other public works projects. The former president, who governed Argentina for two terms beginning in 2007, stands accused of heading the corruption scheme.
However Cristina Fernández remains one of the most popular figures of Argentina's fragmented opposition, with a crucial election due this October. She has yet to officially indicate if she will run for president again, this time against Macri. Her inner circle has indicated she will be running for the presidency.
Since leaving office Cristina Fernandez has been dogged by legal woes. This is one of six cases open against her at present, which cover alleged crimes including money-laundering, fraudulent administration, concealment and illicit association.
Currently as Buenos Aires province senator she enjoys parliamentary immunity, which protects her from being jailed under pre-trial detention. Attempts to disbar her from congressional privilege have failed. According to prosecutors, at least US$160 million in bribes were paid between 2003 and 2007, during the government led by her late husband, Néstor Kirchner.