Friday, June 23, 2017

Argentina prosecutor launches probe into Macri over Avianca

By on March 1, 2017

BUENOS AIRES — A prosecutor in Argentina asked a judge on Wednesday to open an investigation into allegations President Mauricio Macri improperly granted routes to Colombia’s Avianca airlines, which recently purchased a company from his family.

Prosecutor Jorge Di Lello asked a judge to allow the probe of Macri, his father Franco Macri, and presidential aide Fernando De Andreis. They are accused of crimes including defrauding the state and influence peddling.

Argentina's President Mauricio Macri arrives to open the 2017 session of Congress and give the annual State of the Nation address in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, March 1, 2017. (Victor R. Caivano/AP)

Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri arrives to open the 2017 session of Congress and give the annual State of the Nation address in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, March 1, 2017. (Victor R. Caivano/AP)

Opposition lawmakers have questioned the recent sale of Macair Jet to Avianca. Macair Jet was owned by Macri’s father, who is one of Argentina’s wealthiest men.

Avianca, which seeks to become an important player in the low-cost airline market in Argentina, recently won route concessions in the South American country.

The prosecutor says he will investigate the circumstances and the amount of the sale.

Macri has not spoken publicly about the investigation, but Cabinet Chief Marcos Pena said Wednesday that “there is no conflict of interest.”

Macri took office last year vowing to revive Argentina’s economy and root out endemic corruption. But he has faced criticism over his role in two offshore companies that emerged in the “Panama Papers” leak. He is also being probed for signing a decree allowing family members of government officials to deposit undeclared money into the banking system.

No charges have been filed yet.

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