The “bribe notebook” scandal in Argentina: Driver’s diary reveals corruption ring

A driver to a former public official made meticulous notes on illicit cash pickups and dropoffs during the Kirchners’ presidencies

Multiple arrests have been made in Argentina following the discovery of notebooks with details of illegal political payments.

The notebooks belonged to Oscar Centeno, a former driver of Roberto Baratta, an official at the Ministry of Planning. There are eight notebooks which cover the time period when Nestor Kirchner and, following his death, Cristina Kirchner were president, from 2003-2015.

Centeno apparently made notes of everything that happened during the journeys he made which involved picking up and delivering cash including the dates, times, addresses and more, according to La Nación.

The newspaper found that Baratta visited a house in the neighbourhood of Olivos to receive instructions on who was going to pay. The quantity of money to be taken had already been agreed upon by De Vido, Baratta’s boss and the former minister of planning, or Nestor Kirchner, the former president.

If the amount of money was over $2 million then it would be delivered to the presidential house in Olivos, according to the newspaper. Other sums of money were delivered to the Kirchner’s private home in Recoleta as well.

The publication claims that over $50 million passed through Centeno’s vehicle and that there are over 30 houses that Centeno visited to collect money from. The investigation found that there was an organized way for the money to be collected in cash and in bags, from offices of companies that the Ministry of Planning had awarded public works contracts.

An unknown source gave Diego Cabot, a journalist at the publication, the notebooks in January and, after making copies of the evidence, the original notebooks seem to be missing. The copies were then passed on to the authorities who made several arrests last Wednesday, which was when La Nación published the story.

Cristina Kirchner currently has parliamentary immunity from the courts as she is a senator in Congress. The judge in charge of the case, Claudio Bonadio, is seeking to strip her of this immunity by presenting a formal request to Congress on the matter.

Image source: La Nación