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Cablegate: Argentina: Judge Rules Lack of Evidence Against

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #0946 1902012
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 082012Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1499
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1822
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 000946

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCOR KJUS PGOV PREL SNAR VZ AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: JUDGE RULES LACK OF EVIDENCE AGAINST
FORMER ARGENTINE OFFICIAL IN VALIJAGATE

REF: BUENOS AIRES 00462
BUENOS AIRES 00646
BUENOS AIRES 00743

1. (SBU) Argentine Judge Daniel Petrone determined on 3 July
that there is not enough evidence to prosecute or to acquit
former Argentine government official Claudio Uberti in the
"Valijagate" investigation, involving the infamous Venezuelan
suitcase carrying USD 800,000 and seized by Argentine customs
in August 2007. Uberti, the former toll-road regulator and
Planning Minister Julio De Vido's point man in relations with
the Venezuelan government, was fired from his position when
it was determined that he authorized Venezuelan-U.S. national
Antonini-Wilson to board the August 4 flight from Caracas to
Buenos Aires. Judge Daniel Petrone, who has overseen this
case since April 22, had ten days to determine whether to
charge Uberti. Uberti voluntarily presented himself to the
court on June 4 before being summoned.

2. (U) According to Argentine press, the central points of
the judge's decision included first, the determination that
it is a money laundering vice smuggling case and second, a
lack of evidence that Uberti was aware of the suitcase's
contents. In his declaration on June 4, Uberti admitted that
he authorized Antonini-Wilson to travel on the request of
former PDVSA Vice-President Diego Uzcategui Matheus.
Interpol notices have been issued for Uzcategui Matheus and
his son, presumed to be in Venezuela, who are wanted for
questioning in the case and have been declared in contempt of
court by Judge Petrone.

3. (SBU) Comment: Uberti's fortunes may soon be reversed if
the Antonini-Wilson case goes to trial in Miami in September
as presently scheduled. The Argentine press is covering
pre-trial developments in Miami, but the GOA is not
commenting or reacting. The Argentine case is not considered
closed without an acquittal. Uberti remains under
investigation and the prosecutor will reportedly appeal the
judge's decision. Judge Petrone's decision to make this a
money laundering case vice smuggling also makes it a more
difficult case to prosecute. The Judge and the prosecutor
will closely watch the U.S. legal proceedings in this case,
which could produce extensive evidence implicating Uberti and
others.
WAYNE

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