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Argentine VP claims persecution as corruption case heard

By AFP - Mar 05,2021 - Last updated at Mar 05,2021

Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez (centre left) arrives with Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to give his annual State of the Nation speech to mark the opening of the 2021 session of congress, in Buenos Aires on Monday (AFP photo)

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina Vice-President Cristina Kirchner accused the judiciary of persecution as she appeared in court virtually on Thursday in relation to a corruption case known as the "Future Dollar".

It is one of nine corruption cases facing Kirchner, who was president from 2007-15.

"The lawfare is still in full swing," said the firebrand 68-year-old, referring to a term that can mean the misuse of the law for political reasons.

"This is not only a leading case of lawfare but also the meddling and manipulation of judicial power in the electoral processes and Argentine politics," added Kirchner.

The case stems from October 2015 when Peronist Kirchner was still president. Members of the opposition accused her of fraud in relation to contracts for the purchase of future dollars.

Argentina was in the midst of a presidential election at the time that was won by the market-friendly Mauricio Macri in a run-off against the center-left Peronist Daniel Scioli, who had been endorsed by Kirchner.

The case brought against Kirchner claims that the future dollars were sold below market value resulting in a loss of 55 billion pesos (around $5.5 billion at the time) for the central bank after Macri came to power.

Before the 2015 election, the central bank agreed to foreign currency sales in a bid to discourage devaluation of the currency during a period of currency controls.

But when Macri lifted those controls, the peso plunged by 30 per cent.

"I was accused of benefitting my friends. The truth is not one friend, not one official in our government had futures contracts. Those that had them were friends of Macri and his officials," said Kirchner at her televised hearing.

Kirchner's former economy minister Axel Kicillof, the current governor of Buenos Aires province, and the ex-president of the central bank, Alejandro Vanolli are also amongst the defendants in the case.

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