Eight ex-army officers were recently sentenced to life in prison for killing unarmed members of the Montoneros rebel group during Argentina’s Dirty War. A court in Chaco province concluded a nearly year long trial with convictions against Gustavo Athos, Horacio Losito, Luis Alberto Patetta, Aldo Martinez Segon, Jorge Daniel Carnero Sabol, Ricardo Guillermo Reyes, German Emilio Riquelme, and Ernesto Jorge Simoni.
Hundreds of investigations concerning alleged human rights violations during the period of military rule in Argentina have been opened since 2005. These cases came to the fore after Argentina’s Supreme Court overturned an amnesty law in June 2005, making former leaders vulnerable to prosecution. This past April, the country’s last military ruler, Reynaldo Bignone, was sentenced to life in prison for the torture and murder of political opposition members during the Dirty War years.
But Argentina’s progress towards reconciling its criminal military past far outpaces its progress in combating its criminal financial present. Only a single conviction related to money laundering has been made in Argentina in the past 11 years, and that breakthrough only took place in the last few months. Daniel Santoro, national political editor at Clarín, Argentina’s largest newspaper, noted in the Global Integrity Report: 2010 that “Argentina has the dubious honor of not having a single person behind bars for money laundering,” which was true at the time of his writing.
Twenty-two regulations have been implemented to improve Argentina’s documentation standards governing real estate and financial transactions, two channels routinely abused for money laundering and tax evasion. The country’s Financial Information Unit implemented the regulations in response to a Financial Action Task Force (FATF) report listing 962 shortcomings in Argentina’s financial system and a startling lack of compliance with FATF’s recommendations.
Thirty-four countries make up the FATF, including the United States, and if labeled as high risk, Argentina would find it much more difficult to conduct business with economies deemed compliant. A bill modernizing its money laundering legislation recently passed. The bill seeks to remedy government inefficiencies and the lack of adequate laws to curb criminal financial activities, which has negatively affected the broader judicial system and the Argentinean economy. Effective implementation remains a hurdle, but hopefully Argentina can begin to deal with money laundering as it has with the criminals of the Dirty War era.
— Marc Moson
— Image: Travel Aficionado (CC by/nc)