Gustavo Arribas, Intelligence Chief of Argentina, has been accused of receiving $850,000 as part of the Brazilian money laundering scheme known as Lava Jato, or the Car Wash. Federal police official, Victor Hugo Rodrigues Alves Ferreira, stated that the $850,000 Arribas received was wired from Hong Kong to a bank account in Argentina. Although the reason for the transfer is unknown, the police official leading the investigation, Milton Fornazari, told the press “What we do know is that they were done illegally, without notifying Brazil’s Central Bank, using a classic money-laundering tactic to avoid being detected by the authorities.” While Arribas has not been charged yet, lawmakers are demanding that he address these claims in front of Congress.
Arribas was appointed a senior official under President Mauricio Macri in December 2015, despite having no prior public service experience, making him the first senior Argentine official under this administration that has been accused of being involved with the Car Wash scheme. Although the accusations against Arribas make no reference to his present job, they come as Macri promises to make changes to Argentina’s agencies in order to prevent corruption. Arribas denies having ties to the case but adds that he was once wired $70,475 for furniture purchases in the past and implied that he was wrongly implicated in court in the past.
Arribas has also been involved in various money scandals in the past. Last year, it was reported that Arribas received approximately $600,000 in connection to the Brazilian Odebrecht scandal of 2013, where bribery and corruption led to a total of 100 projects and $3.3 billion in profits. Rodolfo Tailhade, a lawmaker in the lower house of Congress stated that these accusations only confirm that there was an unjustified under-the-table payment to Arribas.
So far, the Car Wash investigation, which began in 2014, has seen two former Presidents of Peru charged with accepting bribes and currently an investigation phase known as Operation Discard is underway looking into all payments made to a trash collecting company in São Paulo, Brazil. Individuals involved were able to transfer millions from contracts by creating fake invoices using front companies. Officials at Argentina’s anti-corruption office refused to make comments about Arribas but Marcos Pena, Argentine Cabinet Chief, said that the Argentinian government stands behind Arribas and denies his involvement in both the Car Wash scheme and Operation Discard.
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