Global News

This article first appeared on Clarin on December 9, 2021.

In the federal justice system, there are 1,630 corruption cases between those that are still ongoing and those that have already been closed. The number is taken from the database of the Supreme Court of Justice. The figure is striking, but much more so is the lethargy with which the cases are advancing: of that total, some 1,138 cases remain open and only 197 (17.3%) were elevated to oral trial in whole or in part. But the vast majority of these trials have not even begun.

In this universe of cases, there are more than 8,900 people under investigation, former officials, politicians and leaders among which Cristina Kirchner, Julio De Vido and Mauricio Macri stand out as the most denounced.

Corruption cases are accumulating without resolution and many of those investigated remain as defendants and even indicted and under investigation without due resolution with an oral trial.

The numbers show a scenario in which, on the one hand, unfilled vacancies in the Judicial Branch delay, on many occasions, the progress of the cases with greater speed. For example, half of the federal oral courts are incomplete and even though judges subrogate the courts, the trials do not start due to the lack of magistrates.

But there is another factor that affects and is known by many in Justice and politics. The “times” that the judges of Comodoro Py usually handle in their relationship with the government of the day.

The report that reveals these data was made by the Observatory on Corruption Cases, which depends on the Civil Association for Equality and Justice (ACIJ) and the Open Knowledge Foundation. It is based on official data provided by the Supreme Court and reported by the different Chambers of the Federal Courts.

This database shows the existence of 1,630 corruption cases, which is represented in another number: 8,965 people under investigation. This last figure includes those who have been sued, denounced, charged, indicted, prosecuted, and dismissed.

Of this universe of cases, according to the ACIJ report, a total of 1,138 are still open and only 492 have been completed. “The vast majority of the cases have not yet been elevated to oral trial,” the document details, showing that only 197 investigations have been partially or elevated to the instance of debate. It is there where the judicial processes conclude.

This item can be broken down even further. For example, some 303 cases were closed and some 300 were dismissed. But if we focus on those cases that are still pending, there are 121 in the hands of Judge María Servini, 135 in the court of Sebastián Ramos, and 143 in the office that belonged for more than two decades to Rodolfo Canicoba Corral (today subrogated by Daniel Rafecas).

The list continues 173 cases in the court of Julián Ercolini, 176 in the court that belonged to Claudio Bonadio, 151 in the court of Marcelo Martínez De Giorgi, and 171 in the office of Sebastián Casanello.

This statistic opens the door to another point of analysis, the duration of the corruption cases. The ACIJ stated in its document that most of the cases that were closed had been under investigation for three to six years (44%), another percentage of cases -almost 30%- were open for more than six years and 12% were pending for more than a decade.

This shows that there are at least, as an example, ten cases that have been pending for more than twenty years in the Comodoro Py courts. The investigation for alleged illicit enrichment against Carlos Menem, his ex-wife Zulema Yoma and his daughter Zulemita, is still pending, with a request for accounting expertise in the Supreme Court. The case is more than 24 years old. Another number exposes the situation: 140 corruption cases have been open for more than 10 years.

General statistics also reveal the movement of cases and the number of complaints in light of the changes that have occurred in the Casa Rosada. In 2016, the first year of Mauricio Macri’s administration, 292 corruption cases were initiated and most of them involved former Kirchnerist officials. It was the highest number in the last ten years. In 2013 when 95 complaints were filed, in 2014 about 127, and the following year that number added a single case of 128.

In 2017, with Macri in power, there were 239 open files and since that date, the complaints started to drop. In 2018 there were 170 complaints, in 2019 about 80, in 2020 a total of 84 and 113 files in 2021.

In general, there are 165 types of crimes investigated, abuse of authority and violation of the duties of a public official are at the top of the list, followed by fraud aggravated by fraud against the public administration, incompatible negotiations, fraudulent administration, failure to submit sworn statements, falsifying or omitting data, illicit association, and money laundering.