Argentine prosecutors wants president probed in Panama leaks

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentine President Mauricio Macri said Thursday that he will set up a blind trust to make his finances transparent, speaking hours after a prosecutor sought permission to investigate the leader’s role in two offshore companies that emerged in the “Panama Papers” leak.

Macri, a conservative who ran for office last year on promises to crack down on corruption, has repeatedly said that they were family businesses and that he was a figurehead who received no compensation. The former mayor of Buenos Aires is the son of Italian-born tycoon Francisco Macri, one of Argentina’s richest people.

“I want to tell you once more today that I have told the truth and that I have nothing to hide,” Macri said in a televised speech from the presidential palace.

“I not only filled out an initial statement saying that I was not a shareholder, that as a director I never received any retribution, but I also did it since the first day that I came into office, and I took all those papers to the anti-corruption office.”

Macri said he would go before a judge Friday to certify that the information he provided is true and that he didn’t omit details. While he spoke, about 500 people protested outside the palace demanding his resignation.

Macri also announced the plan for a blind trust that will allow an independent group of people to manage his wealth without contacting him during his time in office.

“This had never been done. No other (Argentine) president has done this,” Macri said. “I’m doing this because I don’t want there to be any doubt.”

Court documents obtained by The Associated Press show that federal prosecutor Federico Delgado asked for authorization to investigate Macri with a filing Thursday to Judge Sebastian Casanello. Under Argentine law, such a request is the precursor to charges, which must be decided on by a judge.

Delgado argued an investigation is necessary to see whether Macri “maliciously” omitted his role in the two offshore companies in his annual tax declarations. In the document, Delgado notes the president has denied any wrongdoing, but says Macri needs to give authorities a full report of his role and the tax dynamics of the offshore companies.

Opposition party leaders have also demanded Macri give a fuller accounting of what the companies did and why Macri was listed if he had no role.

For example, Macri shows up in documents of Fleg Trading, a now-defunct company that was incorporated in the Bahamas. Macri has said it was set up in the late 1990s to make investments in Brazil, but the investments never materialized and by 2009 the company was dissolved.

However, he has not provided details about the company or elaborated on why he was named as a partner if he had no role and received no income.


Associated Press video journalist Paul Byrne contributed to this report.


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