By Max Voldman
Former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s public works secretary, José López, was arrested last week after he was spotted throwing sacks of cash over a nunnery wall in the middle of the night. Observing the strange scene, a concerned neighbor, fearing for the nuns’ safety, called the police. When police arrived, Mr. López was with the nuns, claimed to be a church official, and allegedly offered the police officers the equivalent of $1M bribe. The police declined the bribe and found over 100 suitcases and boxes full of cash (including U.S. Dollars, Argentine Pesos, Euros, Yen, and 2 Qatari Riyals) totaling about $9M, and other valuables, primarily expensive watches, in the convent garden. There was also an unlicensed rifle in López’s nearby car.
Mr. López allegedly claims he stole the money to help the nuns. Mr. López’s lawyer, Fernanda Herrera, better known as a supermodel and singer, has claimed her client is mentally unfit to stand trial, though other psychological experts disagree. Mr. López’s arrest casts another shadow over the Fernández administration, which has been marred by rumors of corruption related to the dolling out of public works contracts, an area over which Mr. López had authority for the entirety of the Fernández presidency. Former president Fernández commented on the arrest via facebook, stating “somebody gave Mr López the money he held in his possession. And it wasn’t me.” She added, “when somebody receives money while in public office it’s because they got it from the private sector.” The origin of the money is now the focus of a major anti-money laundering investigation in the country.
If any readers have any information on where this money came from, especially if it came from an American company, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) would be very interested. The SEC may reward the sources of such information.
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