Argentina - Corruption
Weak institutions and an often ineffective and politicized judicial system undermined systematic attempts to curb corruption. According to the World Bankís worldwide governance indicators, corruption remains an area of concern in Argentina. In the latest Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) that ranks countries and territories by their perceived levels of corruption, Argentina ranked 100 out of 178 countries.
There is a strong regulatory framework for combating corruption, but enforcement is uneven, and a slow-moving judiciary makes rooting out corruption difficult. The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption. Public officials are subject to financial disclosure laws, and the Ministry of Justice's Anti-Corruption Office (ACO) is responsible for analyzing and investigating federal executive branch officials based on their financial disclosure forms. The ACO is also responsible for investigating corruption within the federal executive branch or in matters involving federal funds, except for funds transferred to the provinces. While the ACO does not have authority to independently prosecute cases, it can refer cases to other agencies or serve as the plaintiff and request a judge to initiate a case.
Argentina is a party to the OAS Anti-Corruption Convention and ratified the OECD Anti-Corruption Convention in 2001. Argentina has signed and ratified the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). It is an active participant in UNCACís Conference of State Parties and is participating in the pilot review of the implementation of UNCAC. It is also an active participant in the Mechanism for Follow-up on the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC).
Cases of corruption were reported in some security forces. The most frequent abuses included extortion of, and protection for, those involved in drug trafficking and prostitution. Internal controls to counter police abuses were weak, but improved during the year. Security Minister Nilda Garre, who assumed control of the newly created Ministry of Security in December 2010, took steps to combat corruption in the security forces, notably within the Federal Police Force (PFA). During the year 2011 she dismissed several PFA officers accused of corruption. In one instance, two PFA officers were sentenced to three years in jail for soliciting a bribe from a detained suspect in exchange for releasing him and dropping the case.
Allegations of corruption in provincial courts, as well as in federal courts located in the provinces, were more frequent than in federal courts with jurisdiction over the city and province of Buenos Aires, which reflected strong connections between the executive and judicial branches at the provincial level.
On 03 June 2011, a federal judge began an investigation of alleged fraud and misuse of public funds involving Sergio Schoklender, the financial manager of the NGO Madres de la Plaza de Mayo. The NGO had received approximately 765 million pesos($186 million) since 2008 through a government contract to build low-income housing throughout the country. Among other allegations, Schoklender was accused of using a construction company to embezzle the public funds and, in a parallel case, national authorities were investigated to determine if they were complicit in the misuse of the funds. During the investigation, Schoklender also alleged government corruption in the allocation of funding for public works, claiming that the monies were sometimes used to pay for political campaigns and that projects were often awarded based on bribes. Schoklender remained free and the investigations continued at yearís end.
An investigation of an alleged illegal campaign financing scheme continued during the year. On February 8, Judge Norberto Oyarbide indicted Hector Capaccioli, President Fernandez de Kirchnerís 2007 chief fundraiser and former supervisor of health services, for his involvement in the scheme. The trial remained pending at yearís end.
The investigation of former transportation secretary Ricardo Jaime continued during the year, and a federal criminal court confirmed it would prosecute Jaime for allegedly receiving illegal gifts and favors during his tenure.
On 14 September 2011, a federal court acquitted former president Carlos Menem and 17 other officials accused of facilitating 6,000 tons of illegal weapons sales to Ecuador and Croatia in the 1990s. The controversial verdict was the culmination of a 16-year investigation and ruled that the arms sales did not constitute contraband on the grounds that the sales were transparent and executed through decrees legal under the constitution.
Public officials are subject to financial disclosure laws, and the Ministry of Justiceís Anti-Corruption Office (ACO) is responsible for analyzing and investigating federal executive branch officials based on their financial disclosure forms. The ACO is also responsible for investigating corruption within the federal executive branch or in matters involving federal funds, except for funds transferred to the provinces. As part of the executive branch, the ACO does not have authority to prosecute cases independently, but it can refer cases to other agencies or serve as the plaintiff and request a judge to initiate a case.
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