January, 4 2017 (Panampost)
In February, Argentina’s federal court will have to decide whether to investigate President Mauricio Macri for allegedly fixing the price of the dollar through the issuance of external debt and Lebacs (short-term debt securities), which some say harmed the country’s economy.
On December 7, federal prosecutor Paloma Ochoa asked Judge Daniel Refecas to file a complaint against Macri and two officials in his administration for the issuance of more than AR $685 billion (over US $40 billion) in short-term debt securities.
The deputies accused Head of the Central Bank Federico Sturzenegger and former Minister of Finance Alfonso Prat-Gay of manipulating the “true value” of the dollar by offering 40 percent annual rates. They are allegedly connected to “unfaithful administration to the detriment of the national State.”
At the end of December, Judge Refecas reportedly dismissed Ochoa’s request, saying that any investigation would lead to an unenforceable policy decision.
The prosecutor appealed the decision and Rafecas accepted it, and in February a federal court is set to intervene.
“It is not up to the judiciary to evaluate financial economic policies carried out by the other powers of the National State,” Rafecas said in his ruling.
But Ochoa argued that in this case, what should be investigated is “an alleged abusive monetary policy decided by public officials, who, exaggerating in their functions, manipulated the real value in order to damage the coffers of the national state for the benefit of certain economic groups.”
“It should be remembered that in this case, the purpose of this investigation was to assess whether the actions criticized by public officials exceeded the framework established by specific regulations governing the exchange rate and, if applicable, if such abuses, which determined that the currency’s value, eventually caused a loss to public assets,” Ochoa said.
Ochoa reproached Judge Refecas for dismissing the complaint “without carrying out any of measures of evidence” she had requested.
The prosecutor asked the Central Bank to report the amount of Lebacs and bonds in the national treasury and how they grew to their values, as well as all other Lebacs operations between 2005 and 2015 and a list of banks and companies that purchased Lebacs.
Kirncher lawmakers reportedly sought to put together a mirror case directed at the ex-President Cristina Kirchner, who allgegedly ordered the sale of dollars in the futures market at a lower price, which harmed the Macri administration when it had to pay for those contracts.
Prosecutor Paloma Ochoa also made negative comments about President Macri, Vice President Gabriela Michetti, Chancellor Susana Malcorra and other members of the government for the signing of the memorandum between Argentina and Qatar that cost US $1.3 billion.