The Argentine Government has appointed General Jorge Fabián Berredo to replace General Martín Deimundo Escobal as Operational Commander of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Escobal is under investigation for alleged mishandling of the Simultaneous, Mandatory, and Open Primary (PASO) elections funds.
Escobal is involved in a scandal for the alleged diversion of more than AR$ 180 million (US$ 900,000 at the unofficial exchange rate). However, Escobal officially retired from active duty due to a family problem that has been dragging on for more than half a year.
The original complaint was filed by Army comptroller Lieutenant Colonel Gustavo Chávez Leguina, who cited trumped-up per diems and irregular payments to suppliers of transportation services and medical kits destined to the National Electoral Command.
In his report, Chávez Leguina mentioned duplicate payment to suppliers, payment of apocryphal travel expenses, phantom list of supposed troops sent to different parts of the country to guard ballot boxes and voting centers, falsification of data on personnel of the intervening police forces, disappearance of supporting documentation of the reports made and serious accounting inconsistencies, among other illicit acts.
The funds are usually transferred to the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from the Ministry of the Interior to be allocated exclusively to expenses related to the electoral process. Any surplus must be returned.
As outlined in Law 26.394 (Disciplinary Regime of the Armed Forces), offenses committed in the performance of military duties are assessed and punished in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Discipline of the Armed Forces, regardless of any subsequent criminal action.
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