Updated 04:18 PM EST, Mon, Nov 23, 2020

Former Argentine President Carlos Menem Jailed for Embezzlement & Illegal Payments

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A local court sentenced former Argentine President Carlos Menem to four and a half years of imprisonment for embezzlement charges.

The official judicial news agency said on Tuesday that aside from embezzlement, the local court also sentenced former Economy Minister Domingo Cavallo to three years and six months for his involvement in illegal payments to employees, ABC News reported. These payments were reportedly authorized by Menem during his 1989-1999 presidency.

According to investigators, Menem and Cavallo had roles in a scheme to overpay staffers and later split the sum among all of those who participated, ABC News added. The overpayments were for security and intelligence expenditures.

In addition, the court also sentenced former Justice Minister Raul Granillo Ocampo to three years and three months of imprisonment, while former Environment Secretariat Maria Julia Alsogaray was absolved, the news outlet further reported. She is slapped with other corruption charges as well and is currently under house arrest.

Alsogaray admitted in another trial that she and other cabinet members received illegal bonuses while in office, teleSUR wrote. The indictment stated that the bonuses were paid to ministers from security and national defense reserves and were given out in cash with the absence of governmental oversight.

Menem is currently serving as a senator in La Rioja province, where he was born. ABC News noted that his position as a lawmaker protects him from imprisonment. The 85-year-old former president didn't attend the court proceedings citing health issues.

Menem stays free even with the seven-year sentence he got in June 2013, which came after he was convicted of smuggling weapons while he was serving as president to Croatia and Ecuador, a time when both countries were under international embargos, ABC News wrote. He has appealed the sentence and has been granted a parliamentary immunity that can only be retracted by the Senate.

Earlier this year, Menem refused to testify in a separate trial in which he was accused of disrupting the investigation into Argentina's worst attack of terrorism in 1994, a bombing assault which killed 85 people at a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, the news outlet added.

Yahoo! News reported that Menem was popular among Argentines in the past for leading the country through a period of fast economic growth in the 1990s. But his fame dropped as his chief economic policies fell apart after his presidency, concluding in a 2001 crisis that resulted to street riots.

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