Argentina requests information in spy chief bribery probe: news report

February 10, 2017

February, 7 2017 (Reuters)

A federal judge in Argentina will request information from Brazil and Switzerland to determine if President Mauricio Macri’s spy chief received bribe money from a builder in 2013, state-run news agency Telam reported on Tuesday.

Prosecutors publicly announced two weeks ago that they are investigating whether National Intelligence Agency Director Gustavo Arribas received a bribe from Brazil-based Odebrecht SA [ODBES.UL] in the form of a $600,000 bank transfer from a Brazilian money changer.

Arribas denied taking bribes or having any link to Odebrecht in a statement last month, when reports of an alleged bribe first appeared in local media. He said he was living in Sao Paulo in 2013 and had declared all of his bank accounts to Argentine authorities. Arribas’ lawyers could not be reached on Tuesday.

Odebrecht is at the center of a global graft scandal. As part of a $3.5 billion settlement with Brazilian, U.S. and Swiss authorities in December, the company admitted to paying bribes in 12 mostly Latin American countries including $35 million in Argentina. [nL1N1EI01R]

Prosecutors in Argentina are also investigating four projects involving Odebrecht, the largest construction firm in Latin America, for corruption.

The formal requests for information will be sent after Feb. 21, Telam reported. The judge overseeing the case, Canicoba Corral, was not immediately available for comment.

Argentina wants access to movements in Arribas’s Credit Suisse account from Switzerland and plea bargain testimony from the money changer in Brazil, Telam reported.

The bank transfer being investigated took place well before Macri was elected in November 2015.

Odebrecht declined to comment on active investigations. The company said in a statement to Reuters that it was working to adopt measures to improve its commitment to ethical business practices and to promote transparency.