The Finance Minister of the Argentine Province of La Pampa admitted on record that most officials would end up in jail if he told the truth about an oil company during his virtual audience with local lawmakers, thus sparking a major scandal.
Minister Ernesto Franco asked La Pampa's Lower House to stop recording the session and spoke of irregularities with the state-owned company Pampetrol and said we are all going to jail. But recording had not stopped and the video went viral on social media.
Franco admitted he himself had invented a rental contract for Pampetrol to save on the corresponding income tax.
The video shows Franco asking to stop for a second the recording and that stenographers left the room so that there was no evidence left. But some lawmakers laughed at his request: It becomes a secret meeting, one deputy is heard saying. All communication with the world is cut off, the parliamentarian went on.
Franco even joked about the situation: Ah, there's the stenographer back there. She loses her job there, he said. That was before admitting that when the Pampetrol issue started, we invented the issue of the rent to lower the income tax.
But Pampetrol did not understand the issue and paid the VAT to the provincial government: That's where we all go to jail, guys. That's the whole truth, Franco added. Then, what was done was to pay the VAT and 18% or 20% more to disguise. The rest, we capitalized it.
Franco also referred to one of the opposition Pampetrol owners, Hugo Pérez, who at the time denounced the deviation of funds from the company to political campaigns: When we demanded it and they understood it, they paid three installments and then I found out that Hugo Pérez said that it was to pay for the campaign, Franco explained
Then, Hugo Pérez should have reacted and said: 'Hey, pay him something so that what we are doing is not so evident. This is the truth, this is my point. And we are very clear on the subject, the minister confessed.
After realizing the video had gone viral, Franco said that I personally assume having made statements using a lexicon that was clearly inappropriate and inattentive.
According to El Diario de La Pampa, Franco admitted the leaked meeting was held last December 13, while the 2022 Budget for the province was being discussed.
He also explained he had requested to stop recording when a negotiation process between a public party and a private party with a state majority was to be discussed, an issue that had an impact on the economic and commercial situation of the latter.
Franco also pointed out that it would be an injustice that this scandal invalidates or undermines the energy policy that La Pampa has been carrying out.
Política pampeana...— Diego Cabot (@diegocabot) April 13, 2022
No lo quiero grabar porque vamos todos en cana, se sinceró el ministro de Economía de La Pampa, Ernesto Franco.
Pidió complicidad, apagar todo para que nada quede registrado. Pero falló!!! Dijo que inventó un contrato de alquiler para no pagar impuestos pic.twitter.com/9yUeSuJ2ax