Venezuela, Argentina allegedly in cahoots

Dec. 19, 2007 at 1:08 AM
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MIAMI, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Venezuela and Argentina allegedly conspired to hide a scandal involving a suitcase of money sent by Venezuela to an Argentine presidential candidate.

According to the U.S. attorney's office, the man charged with delivering about $800,000 on behalf of the Venezuelan government to the campaign of Argentine presidential hopeful -- and eventual election victor -- Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner cooperated with FBI investigators and told them of the arrangement between the two nations, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

''There are numerous recorded conversations ... where they make it very clear that an agreement had been reached between the Venezuelan and Argentine governments in which the true source of those funds would be suppressed and this whole problem would go away as long as Mr. Antonini would cooperate (with the Venezuelan agents),'' said Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Mulvihill.

Kirchner, the wife of her presidential predecessor, Nestor Kirchner, has denied any involvement with the alleged payment to her campaign made on behalf of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Antonini Wilson, a dual Venezuelan and U.S. citizen who lives in Miami, was arrested in Argentina in September when authorities discovered the large amount of cash on him.

Last week, four suspects charged with being unregistered agents of the Venezuelan government also were accused of trying to intimidate Wilson to maintain his silence about the payment arrangement.

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