Argentina's Fernandez charged with state fraud

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez was charged on Friday with defrauding the state as part of her government’s handling of the futures dollar market.

Federal judge Claudio Bonadio said that a scheme to keep the Argentine peso inflated by selling dollars below market value would not have been possible without Fernandez’s approval.

Bonadio has said this cost the state about $5.2 billion, allowing buyers to make big profits on the transactions. The sales also led to a sharp drop in Central Bank reserves.

Fernandez, who has denied any wrongdoing and says she is the victim of political persecution, can appeal the decision.

Former Economy Minister Axel Kicillof, former Central Bank President Alejandro Vanoli and 12 other former officials were also charged, according to the decision published by the official judicial news agency.

The crime is punishable by 5-20 years in prison.

Fernandez was dogged by corruption allegations during her eight years in the presidency. Since leaving office in December, she has also been included in investigations involving allegations of money laundering and possible illegal enrichment.