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  • Former Argentine President Carlos Menem

    Former Argentine President Carlos Menem | Photo: AFP

Published 1 December 2015

Former President Carlos Menem received a 4.5-year sentence and former Economy Minister Domingo Cavallo, 3.5, for embezzlement.

Argentina’s former President Carlos Menem and former economy minister, Domingo Cavallo, were both sentenced to jail terms for embezzlement, La Nacion reports Tuesday.

Menem has been sentenced to 4.5 years, while Cavallo was sentenced to 3.5 years, the daily added.

The Menem administration ruled the country for 10 years during the 1990s.

The investigation into the pair was initially into the overpayment of ministers under the Menem administration. The former minister of natural resources, Maria Julia Alsagaray, admitted in another trial that she and other cabinet members were paid illegal bonuses while in office.

According to the indictment, the bonuses were paid to ministers from security and national defense reserves and were handed out in cash with no governmental oversight.

The defense attorneys initially requested the trial be dismissed arguing various issues, including that the statute of limitations had expired and that the case classified as double jeopardy and was in violation of the country’s penal code.

This was not the first time Menem and Cavallo had been in court for crimes while in power.

In 2014, the Buenos Aires Herald reported that Menem and Cavallo had both been formally indicted for embezzlement over the sale of a Rural Society property in the Palermo neighborhood in 1991 at a price the court then described as “vile.”

The judges had strong words in describing the events which led to the sale of the 14-hectare Rural Society property and accompanying building for around four times less than the market value of the building in 1991. Evidence revealed they sold the building for about US$30 million when its real value was estimated at US$131 million.

“The gathered evidence indicates that all accused took part in a jointly planned operation to bypass Congress,” judges Horacio Cattani, Martín Irurzun and Eduardo Fara wrote in their declaration in August 2014.

Menem is also currently embroiled in a trial for the alleged cover-up and involvement in a 1994 attack on a Jewish community center that left 85 people dead.

The trial, which began in August, is expected to last for months, while prosecutors will try to prove why the former president and the other officials may have wanted to bury the investigation.

WATCH: Menem Tried for Obstructing Bombing Probe


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