Saturday, May 14, 2016

Corruption Cleanup Reaches Argentina

One of the curiosities of the corruption crisis in Brazil is the question of why people have turned against corruption in that country but not in its much more obviously corrupt neighbor, Argentina. That’s a question we may not have to ask much longer. Argentina’s previous president Cristina Fern├índez de Kirchner has been indicted on charges generally related to misdirecting $5 billion in central bank funds, awarding foreign currency contracts to hand-picked parties at favorable terms. Throughout her time in office, Kirchner openly redirected funds for off-budget purposes and took money from the central bank, resulting in inflation rates around 25 percent. Given her record, the suggestion that some of her actions went beyond what the law allowed does not seem much of a stretch, though of course, the courts will have to take a careful look at all the details. Seventeen other former officials were named in the same indictment, and Kirchner is also under investigation for money laundering. An indictment of eighteen former officeholders won’t, by itself, clean up the corruption in Argentina, but it is nevertheless a surprising step and one that could lead to further action.