BUENOS AIRES – An Argentine prosecutor is seeking to investigate President Mauricio Macri over accusations he bypassed Congress in reaching an agreement in June with the International Monetary Fund for a $50 billion credit line.
Jorge di Lello, who acted in response to a complaint filed by economist and former leftist lawmaker Claudio Lozano and attorney Jonatan Baldiviezo, confirmed the legal move in remarks to EFE.
Baldiviezo, for his part, told EFE early Wednesday that Argentina’s constitution gives Congress sole authority to take on public debt and enter into agreements with multilateral organizations.
He added that Macri’s administration has justified its decision to take out the credit line on the basis of a 1990s law that allowed the executive branch to take on public debt unilaterally from multilateral organizations of which Argentina is a member.
But that authority provided to the executive branch by Congress expired in 2010, said Baldiviezo, who is president of Buenos Aires’ Observatory of City Rights.
Federal Judge Julian Ercolini must give the green light for an investigation.
Macri says the credit line is essential to Argentina’s efforts to navigate an economic “storm” and shore up the peso, which has depreciated sharply relative to the dollar since late April.
The country’s currency woes led the Central Bank last week to hike its main interest rate to 60 percent even though the economy shrank 6.7 percent in June relative to the same month of 2017.
Fresh shocks to the Argentine currency last week led Macri’s administration to seek the early release of funds from the credit line.
In addition to Macri, Di Lello also is seeking to investigate Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña, Economy Minister Nicolas Dujovne, Central Bank President Luis Caputo and others who during the course of the probe may be deemed responsible for any irregularities.
Justice Minister German Garavano said for his part that Macri’s administration will provide all information required by investigators but that the legal action appeared to be politically motivated.
In their complaint, Lozano and Baldieviezo called for a halt to the disbursements of credit under the IMF deal until the legal situation is resolved.