07/26/2020 - 19:55
After more than three months, the experts of the Court began work on a key test: an expertise requested by Cristina Kirchner and her former business partner, Lázaro Báez. The specialists must analyze all the contracts concluded between Hotesur SA - the firm that owns the Alto Calafate hotel -, and Valle Miter SRL - owned by businessman K used to manage the hotels of the former president. This task was ordered by the Federal Oral Court 5 (TOF 5), which must judge the Kirchners and Báez, among others, for having used family businesses (Hotesur and Los Sauces) to launder nearly $ 120 million. Until the expertise is completed, the oral debate will not start.
The expert tasks began about twenty days ago, judicial sources confirmed to Clarín , where the “intermediation and administration” that the laundering operations would have allowed are analyzed. The cross-linking of the documentation includes Hotesur, Valle Miter (hotel manager), as well as other Grupo Austral firms that Báez used to rent rooms: there were seven firms that guaranteed, in this concept, $ 14 million to the Kirchners.
The expert study is interdisciplinary and "an extension of the expert reports" that were already made during the investigation. In a comparative study, the contracts signed between the Báez company and the Kirchner hotels began to be analyzed, "establishing whether the rental fees agreed by the rent of these last establishments can be classified as excessive, according to the market variables ”.
The work ordered by TOF 5 will take no less than six months. To speed up the work, the Court digitized all the documentation required by the experts.
This trial will be held together with the Los Sauces case, where an expertise was also requested on the contracts between Báez and the former president (Báez and Cristóbal López represented 86% of the real estate's turnover). For justice, between 2009 and 2015 more than 30 million pesos would have been handled irregularly. This expertise has not yet concluded.
The hotel business was " leveraging the Kirchner estate," Victor Manzanares, a former family accountant , said in his confession as repentant. The four hotels that the former presidential marriage acquired while they were in charge of the Casa Rosada, were the subject of an investigation in relation to the contracts signed with Lázaro Báez, who in turn - according to justice - emerged as the "main construction contractor public of Santa Cruz ".
That circuit through which at least 80 million pesos would have been laundered, sustains the prosecution against the vice president, her sons Máximo and Florencia Kirchner, Báez and other defendants, is the one that was brought to oral trial. Everything was done through the hotel business. The former president and his children are accused of being part of a "recycling process that, with the illicit funds from public works and through the Valle Miter de Báez firm, took place between 2008 and 2013."
Only in the Hotesur case, there is talk of a laundering of $ 80 million : simulated contracts, rooms that were never used, a commercial activity that was not such, but "a screen", were expressions of the prosecution when formulating the accusation that the sent to oral trial.
For several months, the Hotesur and Los Sauces causes had no movement. Without the OA as a plaintiff since Felix Crous decided to resign from being the accuser as the body in the case, after the request of the prosecutor Diego Velasco, the extraordinary judicial fair that was governed by the Covid19 was enabled to advance in these files.
Contracts under suspicion
In the case of Hotesur, the commercial operations to be assessed were analyzed during the investigation, together with various real estate arrangements. For example, the Justice indicated that for the Kirchner family to acquire the hotels between 2005 and 2009, there were more than 15 purchase-sales of land and properties between Báez and the former presidents. This liquidity allowed them - with the participation of Máximo Kirchner - to buy the Las Dunas hotel for $ 700,000 and Alto Calafate for $ 4,900,000.
As a next step, the Valle Miter firm in Báez was created in order to manage the hotels, " to receive that money and apply it to the hospitality business, thereby allowing the illicit profit to distance itself from its true origin."
As this firm did not have the economic capacity to pay the rent for Hotesur, Austral Construcciones - the main contractor of the public road works - injected money into it. The company that managed the Kirchner hotels recorded income from payments from the construction company between 2007 and 2015 for almost 71 million pesos.
It all ended with the entry of funds into the K estate. Between 2009 and July 2013, Báez paid the Kirchners 27,592,110 pesos for rents to Hotesur SA. The figure is important, but more the proportion that keeps in the total income of the family business. 54% of Alto Calafate's income came from Grupo Austral.