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Argentina prosecutor seeks investigation into president over family's business deals

[JURIST] Argentine prosecutor Juan Pedro Zoni asked a court on Tuesday to investigate [press release, in Spanish] President Mauricio Macri [official profile, in Spanish] and other government officials over a deal the national government made with a company owned by Macri's family. Zoni is also seeking to investigate Communication Minister Oscar Aguad and the director of legal affairs for the Communication Ministry, Juan Manuel Mocoroa. Sociedad Macri (SOCMA) owned the national post office, Correo Argentino [official website, in Spanish], from 1997 until it went bankrupt and re-nationalized in 2003. SOCMA owed a debt of about 296 Argentinian pesos as a result of running the postal office, but the government entered into a deal [Guardian report] with the company last year, As part of the deal, SOCMA is to make yearly payments until the year 2033, paying close to double the amount owed. However, prosecutors allege that this agreement is not favorable [Clarín report, in Spanish] to the state because it does not account for interest on the debt and the majority of the payment would be made toward the end of the payment period. The prosecutor believes this agreement absolves the company of paying 98.2% of the total debt.

The announcement of the investigation comes just one week after the general prosecutor of the national Commercial Apellate Court, Gabriela Boquín, urged [press release, in Spanish] the government to reject this deal. She stated that the government would lose over 70 billion Argentinian pesos from the debt by the year 2033. She further warned that there could be a conflict of interest in having the executive branch negotiate a deal that would directly or indirectly benefit members of the president's family. Macri's predecessor, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, has also experienced legal troubles. Kirchner was indicted [JURIST report] in December on allegations of corruption, accused of illicit association and fraudulent administration in connection with the use of funds meant for public works. In 2015 a judge in Argentina dismissed [JURIST report] criminal allegations against Fernandez that accused her of conspiring to shield Iranian officials from responsibility for the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires. Fernandez was accused [JURIST report] of the cover up in January 2015.

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