Argentina's President Mauricio Macri received US$500,000 from Brazil's Odebrecht construction firm for his 2015 electoral campaign, Argentine daily La Nacion revealed on Sunday.
The donation was processed through Odebrecht's Braksem SA branch, and appeared in Macri's party 2015 balance record. The company defended the move as "totally legal," saying the sum of money was for the purchase of cutlery for a fundraising dinner that Macri's Cambiemos coalition organized in March of that year.
“Braksem belongs to Odebrecht, it's dedicated to the petrochemical market, with a branch in Argentina,” said the paper. “The Brazilian giant's strategy was to have this lower-profile branch's name appear in order to avoid public exposure.”
The leak comes after Odebrecht admitted it funded the electoral campaigns of other Latin American presidents, including Colombia's current President Juan Manuel Santos and Peru's former President Ollanta Humala.
Macri was also one of the main figure involved in the Panama Papers scandal after a leak from a company revealed how world leaders had thousands of offshore companies in tax havens to avoid paying taxes.
For 2015, Macri declared his fortune as being worth US$110 million to Argentina's Anti-Corruption Office, an increase of 100 percent from the US$52 million he reported for the 2014 fiscal year. Following the Panama Papers leak, Macri admitted to having over US$18 million in tax havens.
Macri’s government has proposed a tax amnesty bill, which has been approved by the country's congress. This controversial law aimed to shield tax evaders who have undeclared holdings and assets while offering them lower taxes in order for them to bring assets to the country.
At Macri’s request, the law excluded from any relatives of officials who have engaged in money laundering or have undeclared assets abroad from legal responsibilities, a caveat that critics say is a clear wink at his own father and siblings.
Earlier this month, polls found that Macri's approval rate dropped to 24 percent, with 54 percent of Argentines polled saying they did not trust him.