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Cablegate: Argentina's Anticorruption Office:

VZCZCXYZ0002
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #1850/01 2571945
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 141945Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9256
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6573
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 6438
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1500
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ SEP MONTEVIDEO 6766
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0783
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001850

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR INL/PC FOR CCLINE AND NANGHA
DEPT FOR INL/C/CP FOR JOHN BRANDOLINO, ROBERT GIFFORD, DAVID LUNA
AND DIANE Kohn

E.O. 12958:N/A
TAGS: KCOR KCRM KJUS PGOV PTER SNAR AR
SUBJECT: Argentina's Anticorruption Office:

Many Investigations, Few Results


REF: A) Buenos Aires 01283

B) Buenos Aires 00978


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Despite being ranked 93rd (low) on Transparency

International's corruption perception index, Argentina has an active

anti-corruption office. The office has both a policy-promotion

mission and an investigatory function. Despite a heavy

investigatory workload, the office has yet to convict anyone as a

result of its efforts. The office attributes this failure to

Argentina's slow and cumbersome legal system. The office has

stressed the importance of working bilaterally with the U.S. to

combat corruption. See Ref A for details on the anticorruption

office's request for improved cooperation. END SUMMARY.


--------------------

Structure of the Anti-Corruption Office

--------------------


2. (SBU) The Office of Anti-Corruption (OA), headed by Abel Fleitas

Ortiz de Rozas, was created by law 25,233 in 1999 under President De

la Rua. The Office of Anticorruption, an independent agency under

the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, consists of two parts: an

investigatory arm and a policy and transparency arm. It is

generally a respected organization staffed by professionals and

appears to be free of overt political interference.


3. (SBU) The transparency branch, Direccion de Planificacion de

Politicas de Transparencia (DPPT), is responsible for designing

policies to enhance transparency and deter corruption. Its primary

responsibility is at the national level, but it assists district or

municipal government as well. It also administers financial

disclosure forms for public officials. Nicolas Raigorodsky is head

of the transparency branch (as of June 2007), which works closely

with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in addressing corruption issues

in international forums.


4. (SBU) The head of the investigatory branch (Direccion de

Investigaciones (DIOA)) is Martin Andres Moreno. The DIOA is

focused on investigating and presenting cases for prosecution

involving corruption within the federal executive branch or

involving federal funds. The authority relating to use of federal

money does not extend to money transferred to districts. It does

not have authority to investigate allegations at the district or

municipal levels. The office, although nominally a part of the

Judicial branch, does not have authority to independently prosecute

cases, but can refer cases to other agencies or serve as the

plaintiff and request a judge to initiate a case. The office and

its investigators can produce testimony for the courts and introduce

evidence as needed. The DIOA has 35 investigators organized into

five teams, each consisting of a multi-disciplinary team of

lawyers, accountants, and other professionals. It has experienced a

lot of personnel turnover, as many of their employees have been able

to obtain more lucrative offers in the judicial sector, other

government agencies, or the private sector.


-------------------------

Corruption Investigations

-------------------------


5. (SBU) The majority of high profile corruption cases (including

Skanska-REFTEL B) are investigated by individual judges and not by

the corruption office. These judges, however, may request

assistance from the DIOA in gathering or analyzing evidence,

especially when related to complicated financial transactions.


6. (SBU) The 2006 annual report indicated that over 6,000 files

have been opened to date by the OA, with 688 opened in 2006 alone.

Individuals, NGOs, and other government agencies can file complaints

with the OA. The office then conducts a quick investigation to

identify if it meets the criteria of a corruption case (e.g. not

primarily a labor or contract dispute) and that it is a federal

issue. If it meets the criteria it will open a preliminary

investigation to conduct a more thorough review. The OA does accept

and will investigate anonymous tips. The office also has the

authority to initiate investigations based on analysis of financial

disclosure forms filed by federal executive branch officials.


7. (SBU) Despite active investigations, there are few convictions

for corruption charges. The main obstacle seems to be the

ineffective legal system which makes prosecuting complex politically

sensitive cases close to impossible. The office consistently refers

cases (119 in 2006) to the courts or to other agencies (149) for

review. The office claims to have had some success with

administrative penalties related to financial disclosure violations

or similar violations from other agency rules. Both Mr. Fleitas and

Mr. Moreno said that their investigations have been stymied by

Argentina's slow and cumbersome legal system. Corruption

investigations and prosecutions in Argentina take so long that,

according to Dr. Fleitas, Argentina is still prosecuting cases from

the mid-1990s.


------------------------

International Agreements

------------------------


8. (SBU) Argentina has been a very active participant in various

international forums against corruption, such as in the Conference

of State Parties (COSP) related to the United Nations Convention

Against Corruption (UNCAC) and the Mechanism for Follow-up on the

Implementation of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption

(MESICIC). Argentina is participating in the pilot review of the

implementation of UNCAC. The Anticorruption office is also in

charge of implementing the checklist reviewing implementation of the

UNCAC.


----------------------------

OA's Perception of Corruption in Argentina

----------------------------


9. (SBU) Mr. Fleitas claims that, while he strongly believes that

corruption is a problem in Argentina, the scale of the problem is

overstated. He notes that the current poor rankings of corruption

indices are worse than they were during the 1990s, when there were a

number of high profile corruption allegations against the

government. He also argues that a review of corruption cases

indicated that the bulk of them stem from mid-level government

officials. He believes that his office has made great strides in

the field of corruption, but that they have been limited by a lack

of resources and personnel. These comments were repeated in our

meeting with Mr. Moreno and seem to reflect the OA's official

position.


KELLY


=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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