Argentina ex-leader Cristina Kirchner charged with fraud

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner gestures in a 2015 file photo.
Argentine President Cristina Kirchner gestures in a 2015 file photo.PHOTO: AFP

BUENOS AIRES (AFP) - A judge on Tuesday (April 4) announced fresh charges against Argentina's former president Cristina Kirchner, the latest twist in a running legal saga as the country prepares for mid-term elections this year.

Federal judge Claudio Bonadio brought formal charges against Kirchner, 64, for alleged money laundering in real estate dealings, the Judicial Information Service said in a statement. She already faces trial in a separate case for alleged financial mismanagement in office.

Kirchner, who served as president from 2007 to 2015, has been charged with "illegal association and money laundering" in connection with real estate dealings, the statement said.

Her son Maximo and daughter Florencia also have been charged, together with businessmen Cristobal Lopez and Lazaro Baez.

All five have been barred from leaving the country and Kirchner's assets amounting to $8 million have been frozen.

Lopez, who owns a casino and the Indalo Media group, has been close to Kirchner and her husband Nestor, who served as president from 2003 to 2007. He died in 2010.

Baez is a construction businessman who won government contracts during the Kirchners' rule in the province of Santa Cruz, the Kirchner stronghold.

Kirchner faces separate investigations into alleged corruption.

She also faces trial on charges of financial mismanagement as president, accused of ordering the central bank to sell dollar futures at artificially low prices, causing Argentina to lose hundreds of millions.

She denies wrongdoing.

A string of cases targeting Kirchner and her rival, current President Mauricio Macri, are clouding Argentine politics ahead of this year's elections.