Argentine ex-leader charged with fraud

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner waves to her supporters in Buenos Aires. Photo: April 2016Image copyright

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Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner says she is the victim of political persecution

The former Argentine President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, has been charged with defrauding the state.

She is accused of manipulating the Central Bank to sell dollars at an artificially low price in the months before she left office.

Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio said this cost the state about $5.2bn (£3.6bn).

Ms Fernandez, who was in power in 2007-15, denies any wrongdoing, saying she is the victim of political persecution. She can appeal against the decision.

The accusation is that the Central Bank sold US dollars on the futures market at an artificially low price ahead of a widely expected devaluation of the Argentine peso.

The judge says the move allowed buyers to make a lot of money on the transaction.

Former Economy Minister Axel Kicillof, former Central Bank President Alejandro Vanoli and 12 other ex-government officials were also charged.

Ms Fernandez’s supporters say she is innocent of many allegations that have dogged her and her administration for years.

Ms Fernandez is also a suspect in an investigation into money-laundering during her administration involving a close friend and business associate of both herself and her late husband Nestor Kirchner, who was president from 2003 to 2007.

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