The Kirchners and Lazaro Baez (right)

The failure of Argentina's government to provide important information for a money laundering investigation into an Argentine government linked contractor has apparently paralyzed proceedings in neighboring Uruguay, something that could be politically motivated.

Lazaro Baez has been under investigation in Argentina since April, when allegations emerged that he and late President Nestor Kirchner illegally benefitted from public money paid out that exceeded the cost of the public works they funded.

The pair have been accused of laundering the money using front companies and flying some of it to Uruguay, Panama and Switzerland.

An investigation was also opened in Uruguay regarding the use of the country as either a destination or transshipment point for the illicit funds, in a case including irregularities in the purchase of a ranch in Punta del Este by an accountant linked to Baez, reported Uruguayan newspaper El Pais.

However, the case has been put on hold, as Argentine officials have not supplied information requested by Uruguay. Argentine prosecutor Guillermo Marijuan claims the request never arrived. An investigation has been opened in Argentina to determine whether the foreign ministry is blocking the processing of the request.

In addition to money laundering, Baez is under investigation for claims he extorted a financier to sell him a financial company through which he laundered money. Authorities are also investigating him for tax evasion.

InSight Crime Analysis

Current President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner has lost a significant amount of public support since the scandal -- known as "Ruta del dinero K" (Route of Kirchner's money) -- broke. She has been hurt by accusations from her late husband's former secretary, who claimed bags of cash were delivered to the Kirchners' homes and kept in vaults. Local media have also cited a video showing her leaving her husband's mausoleum with Baez as evidence of the family's close ties with the contractor.

Suspicions that the Argentine government is intentionally withholding information from Uruguayan officials could hold weight, given the highly politicized and sensationalized nature of the case. President Fernandez, in her few public mentions of the scandal, has dismissed it as a political attack aimed at reducing her support base in the face of approaching presidential elections, a claim that may also be grounded in some truth.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...