Ex-Argentina VP Boudou found guilty, sentenced in corruption case

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BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Amado Boudou, who had been former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez’s economy minister and vice president, was found guilty and sentenced on Tuesday to five years and 10 months of prison on corruption charges.

The Fourth Federal Tribunal, in Buenos Aires, ruled that a deal Boudou had made with a bankrupt money printing company was “incompatible with public office.” Boudou had pleaded not guilty to charges that he helped the company exit bankruptcy in exchange for an equity stake in 2010, when he was economy minister.

Boudou became the highest-profile official in the Fernandez administration to be handed a prison sentence, but several former officials are facing a range of corruption charges.

Progress in the judicial cases against the former officials since President Mauricio Macri took office in December 2015 has been heralded as a milestone for a country long known for impunity, but Fernandez and her allies have said the cases amount to political persecution.

Fernandez has been indicted on corruption charges but enjoys immunity from arrest as a senator. She has admitted possible corruption in her government but denies wrongdoing.

Before Boudou’s sentence was read, he said in court proceedings broadcast on local television that the case was a “matter of revenge” by members of Fernandez’s left-leaning administration.

“Politicians that stay in the lane that the powerful decide walk without problems. Politicians that decide to change reality are persecuted,” Boudou said. “This is a matter of revenge.”

The ruling came days after local newspaper La Nacion published the contents of notebooks kept by a driver in Fernandez’s administration, in which he detailed transporting millions of dollars in bribe cash from construction executives to government officials.

Dozens of executives and officials have been arrested in the past week as part of that case.

Reporting by Nicolas Misculin; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Richard Chang