Wednesday, July 24, 2024

ARGENTINA | 07-12-2022 20:51

Government denounces those involved in Lago Escondido scandal

Justice Minister Martín Soria files complaint against judges, prosecutors, officials and Clarín executives; Prosecutor shows revealing images of the group arriving in Bariloche and questions invoices presented.

The national government has denounced federal judges, prosecutors, officials and businessmen for the trip they allegedly made to Patagonia last October, staying on the Lago Escondido ranch owned by British billionaire Joe Lewis.

Instructed by President Alberto Fernández, Justice Minister Martín Soria lodged criminal charges with the Bariloche federal prosecutor "for malfeasance and [accepting] handouts." The president had anticipated this move in Monday’s nationwide broadcast aimed against the group travelling south: "It hurts democracy to see the anti-republican promiscuity with which certain businessmen, judges, prosecutors and officials move."

"The actions under investigation took place in the week of October 13 when the denounced persons shared a flight in a private aeroplane from San Fernando to Bariloche (Río Negro) with its funding unknown," read a communiqué published by the Executive Branch.

Bariloche federal prosecutor María Cándida Etchepare has demanded that the magistrate in charge of the case indict the 10 people involved in the trip to Lago Escondido for presumed malfeasance, also showing photos of the group upon arrival in Bariloche and questioning the invoicing presented.

In a nine-page writ to which Perfil had access, Etchepare asked federal judge Silvina Domínguez to begin her investigations and to rule on the claim of Marcelo Eduardo Hertzriken Velasco making the denunciation to admit him as a plaintiff in the case entitled "Ercolini, Julián and others for malfeasance and for accepting handouts.”

Etchepare issued the writ on Tuesday after it became known that she had received indications from Buenos Aires City attorney-general Juan Bautista Mahíques. She then began going over the denunciation made last October 28 by Hertzriken Velasco after the facts were leaked by the Página/12 newspaper.

"The newspaper affirmed that a group consisting of magistrates of different instances, a Buenos Aires City official and a series of businessmen had travelled to Bariloche, lodged and fed by City Hall officials belonging to the political party PRO," it says in the prosecutor’s writ.

The contingent left Buenos Aires for Bariloche on October 13 in a private aeroplane belonging to the company “Servicios y Emprendimientos Aeronáuticos S.A.”, registered as LV-GCK, returning to San Fernando airport two days afterwards.

As to whether they actually stayed on the Lago Escondido ranch, the prosecutor pointed out the group was filmed being personally received by Nicolás Van Ditmar, the president of “Hidden Lake S.A.”, a company known locally for its conflicts with various organisations over access to Lago Escondido.

Those sharing the trip were Pablo Casey, the nephew of Héctor Magnetto and the Grupo Clarín director for Legal and Institutional Affairs, and Grupo Clarín, CEO Jorge Rendo, who had allegedly hosted the magistrates Julián Ercolini, Pablo Yadarola, Pablo Cayssials and Carlos Mahiques, as well as Buenos Aires City Security Minister Marcelo D´Alessandro and attorney-general Juan Bautista Mahiques with consultant Tomás Reinke and former intelligence agent Leonardo Bergot.

This trip was revealed by El Destape y Página 12 a few days later, something which those involved had attempted to deny, leading them to assemble two chat groups. The aim, apart from concealing the encounter in Lago Escondido, had been to fake invoices to justify the funding.

In these Telegram conversations which were leaked last weekend, Cayssials says: “We paid for the plane and went to the house of my friend, if you think that’s convenient, we cannot say that the flight was a gift.” Various chats seek arguments to justify the flight.


Who’s who in the 10 involved in the Lago Escondido chat

The prosecutor’s writ begins by mentioning the 10 people involved: 

  1. Julián Daniel Ercolini, the judge heading the National Criminal and Misdemeanours Courtroom No. 10 ;

  2. Juan Bautista Mahiques, Buenos Aires City attorney-general;

  3. Marcelo Silvio D'Alessandro, City Hall Security and Justice minister,

  4. Carlos Alberto Mahiques,a judge of the Federal Criminal Cassation Court;

  5. Pablo Yadarola, the judge heading the National Criminal and Company Law Courtroom No. 2;

  6. Pablo Gabriel Cayssials, the judge heading the National Courtroom for Federal Administrative Litigation No. 9;

  7. Leonardo Bergroth;

  8. Tomás Reinke, president of Mediabit S.A.;

  9. Pablo César Casey, a director of Grupo Clarín S.A. and

  10. Jorge Carlos Rendo, the president of Grupo Clarín S.A.


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