The prosecutor before the Federal Chamber, Jose Luis Agüero Iturbe He asked that Chamber I of that court resolve “as soon as possible” the appeal of the dismissal issued for the Head of the Buenos Aires Government, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta in the case in which the tender to build the Paseo del Bajo is investigated.
Agüero Iturbe, in an opinion to which he agreed Infobae through judicial sources, he pointed out that the judges Leopoldo Bruglia, Pablo Bertuzzi and Mariano Llorens have pending resolution since last june the appeal filed by the prosecutor Alejandra Mangano and by Sergio Rodriguez who heads the Office of the Administrative Investigations Office (PIA).
Both had appealed for “premature” the dismissal issued on December 27, 2019 by the deceased judge Claudio Bonadio. In that 2019 resolution, Bonadio had also dismissed the former Minister of Transport, Guillermo Dietrich, and the president of Autopistas Urbanas SA Carlos Maria Frugoni, among other defendants.
With that decision, the investigation that also affected businessmen linked to the work, such as Angelo Calcaterra, first of the former president Mauricio Macri.
The case investigates whether the most onerous tranche of the international public tender in question was awarded improperly, by means of directing and at a price higher than the corresponding one, in favor of the IECSA company, then owned by Calcaterra.
According to the judicial file, the budget for the Paseo del Bajo work was $8,700,000,000, financed 43% with City funds and 57% with national contributions, these from a loan of up to USD 400,000 .000 granted by the Andean Development Corporation (CAF).
By means of a Macri decree, the signing of the agreement was delegated to the Minister of Finance and the Ministry of Transportation of the Nation – under Dietrich’s charge – was designated as the “Executing Agency”.
That national ministry delegated the execution of the work to the Ministry of Urban Development and Transportation of the City of Buenos Aires. In short, the contracting of the works was carried out by Autopistas Urbanas SA (AUSA).
The Paseo del Bajo work included three sections, designated in the bidding documents as “A”, “B” and “C”. The last, the most expensive of the three, had an estimated budget of $4,480,000,000.
Prosecutors who appealed the dismissal argue that it should be investigated whether there were irregularities in the award of the last section of the work. The temporary union of companies formed by IECSA and Fontana Nicastro SA was favored with the contract.
The hypothesis of the accusers indicates that the award was made by altering the rules provided for the tender selection process, through circulars without consultation issued by AUSA officials.
This would have allowed the elimination of other possible candidates to keep this section, and in this way the joint venture formed by IECSA and Fonatana Nicastro would have benefited unduly.
There are two other axes of the investigation that prosecutors want to keep open, which are the inclusion of civil infrastructure works of the so-called “RER” and the removal of a gas pipeline.
When he issued the dismissal of the accused Bonadio had said that “It is only possible to conclude that there are no irregular or illegal acts in the denounced events. Nothing in everything that has been done, widely considered, indicates that IECSA-Fontana Nicastro was favored illegally and deliberately, in any of the alleged cases. The totality of the procedures observed, do not exhibit questions susceptible to fit into any of the criminal types provided for in our legislation”.
The judge had indicated that there was no “breach of the duties of a public official” because “no official has acted contrary to the law.” Nor had it detected “any of the fraud invoked since there was no scheme or financial damage.”
“The tenders were assigned to companies that quoted for percentages that were significantly lower than the budgets estimated by the State at the beginning of the tenders. Neither were deception, promises or gifts proven,” Bonadio had concluded.
They were also dismissed Franco Moccia, Minister of Urban Development and Transportation of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires when the work was done and Natalia Bustos, Head of Purchasing of Autopistas Urbanas SA
Prosecutors disagreed with the judge’s decision. When they appealed in 2020, Mángano and Rodríguez had argued that “There are strong indications of administrative irregularities in addition to economic benefits for public works contractors on which plausible doubts lie about their transparency and legality.”
And they had indicated that “the investigation had not reached the necessary certainty to affirm that no crime had been committed in any part of the maneuver in question.
The analysis of the seized documentation revealed the existence of direction indicators of the tenders and allowed opening new lines to deepen the investigation, regarding the different edges of the maneuver.
Paseo del Bajo (Lihue Althabe)
In June 2020 when the case arrived-pandemic in between- to Room I of the Federal Chamber Agüero Iturbe had supported the arguments of the prosecutors’ appeal and it had also requested that “the viability of advising the instructor on the delegation of the proceedings at the head of this Public Prosecutor’s Office be considered by that Court.
This with the purpose of carrying out the different evidentiary measures that throughout the investigation were required and that have not been specified, as this accusation is explained on appeal. This will allow to speed up the investigation, in order to arrive at a state of knowledge about the procedural object that does enable the issuance of a valid resolution.
In the request for speed to resolve the appeal, the prosecutor Agüero Iturbe characterized the fact as “Corruption in the administration and management of public works”.
According to judicial sources, one of the three judges has decided his vote for several months. The vote of the other members of Chamber I of the Federal Chamber is missing.
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