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  • Argentine President Mauricio Macri

    Argentine President Mauricio Macri | Photo: AFP

Published 10 April 2016

Argentina's election financing rules prohibit political parties from accepting donations from state contractors, but President Mauricio Macri did it anyway.

The Panama Papers aren’t Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s only links to questionable money. The president’s party also broke election finance rules during his race for the country’s top office last year by receiving nearly US$200,000 from government contractors forbidden from making campaign contributions, an investigation by the Argentine online publication Chequeado revealed Saturday.

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The illegal funds came from some 33 public relations agents, 20 members of private security companies, seven construction company employees, and four urban sanitation managers, all with ties to Buenos Aires government or provincial contracts contracts, according to Chequeado, an Argentine site dedicated to the “verification of public discourse.”

These campaign contributions, which violate the country’s electoral finance laws that prohibit government contracted companies from donating to political parties due to conflicts of interest, added up to 2.7 million Argentine pesos, or nearly US$190,000.

Argentina outlaws political parties from receiving “direct or indirect contributions or donations from companies contracted for public services or works of the nation, provinces, municipalities, or the city of Buenos Aires,” according to the country’s Financing Law.

During elections, the rule also extends to all private corporations, which are only allowed to support political parties for day-to-day activities, not election campaigns.

According to Chequeado, if election donations from high-ranking individuals of companies without state tenders are added up with those from state contractors, Macri’s party received at least 5 million Argentine pesos, or nearly US$350,000, from technically illegal donors.

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Many political analysts see such donations as a clear conflict of interest for governing politicians, which is precisely what the campaign financing rules aim to avoid.

The findings of the Chequeado investigation cast further doubt on the legitimacy of Macri’s financial activity just one week after the high-profile leak of the Panama Papers revealed that the president used an offshore shell company set up through the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to hide his wealth in tax havens.

Macri was among the handful of heads of state directly implicated in the tax haven scandal. Called the biggest leak in the history of data journalism, the 11.5 million documents of the Panama Papers shed light on how Mossack Fonseca helped world leaders, business people, and celebrities evade taxes through webs of shell companies and offshore accounts.

Leaders of Macri’s party have also been linked to the Panama Papers.

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