i INTRODUCTION

The main enforcement authorities empowered to investigate and prosecute corporate misconduct are the public prosecutors and investigative magistrates as regards the investigation stage of a criminal procedure, and the criminal courts with regard to adjudication. The police perform investigative measures, including dawn raids or searches, but only following magistrates' orders.

Argentina is a federal country. The federal government shares its responsibilities with 24 electoral districts, comprising 23 provinces and the autonomous city of Buenos Aires. By constitutional design, the provincial governments have authority over criminal procedure law, so the procedural model varies across the country. Federal offences (including corruption and money laundering) are subject to the federal jurisdiction, where the criminal investigation is still in charge of an investigative magistrate who has the power to delegate this task to the prosecutor – an inquisitorial-oriented procedural model.

A new Criminal Procedure Code establishing an adversarial model, in which prosecutors investigate under judges' control and adjudication, was approved by the National Congress on 6 December 2018. However, it is being gradually implemented, and only a few provinces are already using it. In most provinces, adversarial procedures are already in force for non-federal offences. In this chapter, unless otherwise stated, we refer to federal criminal procedure law.

Although the judiciary and Public Prosecutor's Office (MPF) are independent constitutional powers, specialised literature has shown that both federal prosecutors and judges behave strategically, especially with regard to public corruption or politically sensitive cases.

Currently, corporate conduct can only be criminally prosecuted for some corruption offences (e.g., bribery, trading in influence, illicit enrichment) and economic offences (e.g., money laundering, terrorist financing, insider trading, tax offences, customs offences and foreign exchange offences).

For the prosecution of corruption and economic offences, the Prosecutor's Office for Economic Criminality and Money Laundering (PROCELAC), a specialised body within the MPF, may become involved. Further, although only empowered to investigate public officials – not corporate wrongdoing – the investigative capacities and participation in criminal proceedings of the Office of Administrative Investigations (PIA) within the MPF, and Anti-Corruption Office within the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights (AO), may have an impact in the investigation of corporate conduct. The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) may also act as a 'private prosecutor' in money laundering investigations.

There is no legal obligation for companies to cooperate with the enforcement authorities. The Argentine legal tradition is unfamiliar with public-private cooperation in criminal investigations, but this could change with the Corporate Criminal Liability Law No. 27,401, which entered into force in March 2018, establishing corporate criminal liability for specific corruption offences. Law No. 27,401 acknowledges internal investigations as an element of compliance programmes, and incentivises cooperation by allowing leniency agreements (similar to deferred prosecution agreements or non-prosecution agreements in the United States) and sanctions mitigation in exchange.

ii CONDUCT

i Self-reporting

Legal entities are not legally obliged to self-report when they discover internal wrongdoing, but recent legislation encourages corporations to self-report by providing immunity under certain conditions.

Under Section 9, Law No. 27,401, corporations will be exempted from penalties and administrative liability when three conditions are met:

  1. the corporation self-reports the offence as a consequence of internal detection and investigation;
  2. a proper control and supervision system (i.e., a compliance programme, requiring wrongdoers efforts to breach it) had been established before the facts under investigation; and
  3. proceeds of crime are returned (disgorgement).

If the tribunal does not consider all three conditions fulfilled, self-reporting should be taken into account as a mitigating factor when assessing the penalty.2

Additionally, Antitrust Law No. 27,442 (the Antitrust Law) provides that any individual or legal entity who has committed or is committing any of the offences listed in Section 2 of such law may disclose and acknowledge such conduct before the Competition Tribunal in exchange of an exemption or reduction of the sanctions set forth in the Antitrust Law. The Competition Tribunal will establish a system to determine the order of priority of the applications to benefit from the leniency program.

In order to enjoy the benefits set on the Antitrust Law, the person reporting the wrongful conduct must have performed or be currently performing the action prescribed by the law, and immediately cease to perform it, unless the antitrust authority requests the applicant to continue with the practice or wrongful conduct disclosed to preserve the investigation.

The availing of the exemption benefit or the reduction of the sanctions or fines, as appropriate, cannot be performed jointly by two or more parties that took part in the coordinated practice. However, if a legal entity is self-reporting the wrongful conduct, the directors, managers, administrators, trustees or members of the supervisory board, agents or legal representatives of such legal entity who are involved may avail of the benefits.

Self-reporting must be filed before receiving the notice established in Section 41 of the Antitrust Law (the 'indictment'). This means that the interested party may be involved in a conduct investigation from the beginning (and filed its preliminary defence, such as, relevant explanations and continue being investigated during the administrative proceeding stage). The applicant must fully, continuously and diligently cooperate all the time with the antitrust authority.

Pursuant to Section 60(d) of the Antitrust Law, the Competition Tribunal shall keep the applicant's identity confidential. Furthermore, the declarations, acknowledgements information or any other means of evidence that had been submitted to the Competition Tribunal cannot be disclosed.

Moreover, under the leniency programme set forth in the Antitrust Law, those who have committed and self-reported any anticompetitive behaviour provided therein shall obtain a reduction or be exempted from penalties established in the Antitrust Law, and from the prison penalties that may be applicable to them in any case for having committed any of the offences set forth in Sections 300 and 309 of the National Criminal Code.

However, the Secretary of Domestic Trade (which is the current antitrust authority until the Competition Tribunal is in place and duly functioning) has not regulated the operative details of its leniency program. Therefore, there are no clear rules on how the applicant protection framework will be enforced yet.

In short, there is no legal obligation in Argentina to self-disclose internal wrongdoing. In corruption and antitrust matters, the new legal framework attempts to incentivise this way of cooperation by offering immunity or lenient treatment, depending on the conditions fulfilled, which will be assessed by the enforcement authorities.

Two exceptions to the lack of obligation to self-report should be taken into account:

  1. In application of the transparency regime of publicly traded corporations, according to Section 99a of the Stock Market Act, companies that are publicly listed before the National Securities Commission (CNV) must disclose to the same authority any fact or situation that could substantially affect the placement of securities of the issuer, the course of the securities' trading or the development of its activities – including internal wrongdoing.
  2. Public servants have the duty to report offences that are known to them in the exercise of their public functions.3 This is particularly important for directors of state-owned enterprises or government-appointed directors in businesses in which the state is a minority shareholder, who have been considered public officials by courts.

ii Internal investigations

Law No. 27,401 establishes that corporations may conduct internal investigations with due respect of the rights of the persons under investigation and impose effective sanctions in case of violations to internal policies or applicable laws. This is the first legal recognition to internal investigations as a relevant element of corporate compliance programmes in the Argentine legal system.

As stated in the AO Guidelines for the Implementation of Integrity Programs,4 if a company decides to conduct an internal investigation, it is essential to achieve a balance between the right to investigate and the protection of privacy and personal dignity, and particularly to observe the limits arising from employees' rights,5 and that the information management complies with the rules on gathering and handling personal information.6

It is, therefore, important that internal investigation actions respond to a written internal protocol previously approved by the board, and previously communicated and agreed upon in writing. Such agreement must include entitling the company to access the sources and devices provided to the employees to perform their work. Employees must be warned about the fact that information stored in such sources is the property of the corporation and that no privacy is to be expected in case such sources are used for personal or illicit purposes.

It is also advisable that the investigations protocol regulates areas such as the chain of custody of the gathered information, how electronic evidence should be handled, and witness interviews, among others.

When conducting witness interviews, the involved employee has the right to retain his or her own counsel, although this is uncommon, especially when the company has a robust investigation protocol.

The procurement of external counsel to conduct the investigation is advisable, especially when the allegations involve senior management, are particularly serious or may have severe reputational consequences. Retaining outside counsel contributes to strengthening the independence and the credibility of the investigation process and enhances attorney–client privilege.

Law 23,187, which regulates the requirements for lawyers to practice law in the City of Buenos Aires (each province of Argentina has its own bar association and regulations but all of them have similar provisions), states that lawyers have the obligation to preserve the attorney–client privilege, unless it is waived by the client. Additionally, Section 7 of Law 23,187 establishes that lawyers have the right to the inviolability of the law firm, safeguarding the constitutional right of defence in court.

Further, according to Section 244 of the Criminal Procedure Code, lawyers are forbidden from testifying in court regarding any information received from the client.

To ensure attorney–client privilege, it is important to state in advance that a conversation or document is privileged and confidential; for example, labelling the documents with the attorney's name and establishing that the document is 'private and confidential'.

The privilege does not apply for accountants, so companies should bear in mind that to ensure confidentiality it is advisable to always retain an attorney.

As to the Antitrust Law, it is also advisable that the leniency must be filed by the company. Once an internal investigation detected an antitrust violation, the company's aim must be to file for the leniency programme before any other person (involved in the internal investigation).

In any case, internal investigations are a new feature in Argentine domestic law. The current state of case law is weighted in favour of employees owing to Argentina's robust labour and data privacy protections. But it is expected that case law will grow in the coming years on issues related to privacy, legal privilege, the admissibility of evidence obtained in an internal investigation or disciplinary measures, as a consequence of the entering into force of Law No. 27,401.

iii Whistle-blowers

Because the legal framework has not incentivised whistle-blower reports until very recently, this figure has been almost foreign to domestic investigations. This started to change in late 2016 with the entering into force of two pieces of legislation offering reductions in the threatened punishments to defendants and economic awards to witnesses.

On the one hand, Law No. 27,304 on cooperators (the Repentant Law), foresees that persons investigated for corruption and other complex crimes (except high-ranking state officials) may obtain a reduction of their punishment and the avoidance of prison during the process in exchange of the disclosure of precise, useful and verifiable data relating to other participants in the offence that occupied a higher hierarchical role in the criminal organisation.

Even though the Repentant Law has some limitations (the 'repentant' cannot receive immunity but only a reduction of the punishment; and the agreement on the reduced sentence will only be applied by a tribunal that didn't take part in the negotiations after an oral trial that the defendant cannot avoid), it has been applied, and provided great visibility to the anticorruption agenda especially in the context of the Notebooks scandal, where multiple businessmen and former public officials reached cooperation agreements boosting the investigations.

On the other hand, Law No. 27,319 allows for the application of special investigative techniques in complex crimes investigations, including the possibility of offering economic awards to whistle-blowers.

Anonymous reporting lines have been opened in recent years by the PROCELAC and the PIA, at the MPF, and by the Anti-Corruption Office at the Executive. Moreover, different administrative agencies have opened anonymous reporting lines, such as the Tax Administration and the Agri-Food Sanitary Agency (Senasa).

Further, a National Witness Protection Programme has been in place in Argentina since 2003 (Law No. 25,764). Even though the programme's resources are limited, and protective measures have been considered weak, in recent years it has offered effective protection to several witnesses of grand corruption cases. The programme sets forth several protection measures, including: (1) personal or domiciliary custody; (2) temporary accommodation in reserved places; (3) change of address; (4) provision of economic means for lodging, transportation, food, communication, healthcare, moving, labour reintegration, security systems, and other essential expenses, inside or outside the country (although for no more than six months).

When it comes to corporate internal whistle-blowers, Law No. 27,401 encourages companies to establish a procedure for internal reporting so that employees and third parties may file reports under confidentiality or anonymously and without fear of retaliation.

Resistance to whistle-blowing is still prevalent in Argentina, so legal and corporate incentives to come forward and cooperate with information need to be sustained in time, together with effective anti-retaliation measures, to overcome this cultural trait. Furthermore, relevant authorities of the current government (that took office in December 2019), including the head of the AO, have publicly discredited the Repentant Law and the practice of rewarding whistle-blowers when claiming that the prosecution of former officials of previous administrations had been a practice of the 'lawfare'.

iii ENFORCEMENT

i Corporate liability

Companies can be subject to criminal liability according to several provisions of the Argentine Criminal Code (ACC) and various additional laws. The main offences for which companies could be criminally liable for the conduct of its employees are:

  1. certain corruption offences (Law No. 27,401);
  2. money laundering (Section 304 and 313, ACC);
  3. terrorist financing (Section 306 and 313, ACC);
  4. insider trading (Sections 307–8 and 313, ACC);
  5. manipulation of financial markets and misleading offers (Section 309 and 313, ACC);
  6. other financial market offences (Sections 310–11 and 313, ACC);
  7. customs offences (Customs Criminal Law No. 22,415);
  8. offences against the foreign exchange regime (Law No. 19,359);
  9. tax offences (Criminal Tax Law No. 27,430);
  10. offences against the social security system (Law No. 24.241); and
  11. collusive conducts (not criminal but administrative corporate liability is foreseen in the Antitrust Law).

The above-mentioned laws establish vicarious corporate liability systems, by which the corporate body is held liable for the illicit actions committed (in most offences by specifically designated persons like the legal representatives, directors or managers; in corruption offences by any person including third parties) with the intervention of the entity or on its behalf, or in its interest or benefit.

Corporate or business fraud and other illicit behaviour can also give rise to civil liability for damages.

Generally, according to Section 1749 of the Civil and Commercial Code (CCC), those who breach an obligation and cause unjustified damage by action or omission are directly liable. Specifically concerning fraud, a company could be liable under Section 271 of the CCC for fraudulent misrepresentation if there is an untrue assertion or concealment of the truth or an artifice, cunning act or contrivance directed to such ends. Additionally, as per Section 338 of the CCC, unsecured creditors have the right to revoke acts carried out by the debtor that infringe on their rights, where an act of corporate or business fraud results in insolvency proceedings. The following elements are necessary: (1) the debtor must be in a situation of insolvency (interruption of payments); (2) the damage caused to the creditor must have resulted from the act of the debtor, or because of the situation of prior insolvency; and (3) the debt must have existed before the debtor's actions.

Besides, Emergency Decree 62/2019 sets a Procedural Regime for Civil Action for non-conviction based asset forfeiture. The Decree sets out a civil action in favour of the federal government, which applies to the goods or titles that are allegedly the result of certain crimes, including bribery. This civil proceeding is autonomous from any conviction issued by a criminal court. The final judgment will be res judicata regarding the goods or rights involved, regardless of the outcome of any other judicial action. However, a criminal final judgment of dismissal or acquittal based on the inexistence of the facts under investigation or in its lawfulness obliges the federal government to restore the property or right (or, when that's impossible, an equivalent value in money) to its previous owner.

Additionally, Section 59 of the Argentine General Companies Law No. 19,550 established the duty of directors or managers to act with loyalty and with the diligence of a good businessman. Failure to comply with this duty can give rise to unlimited joint and several liabilities for the damages caused to the company, the shareholders and other third parties (among others, any creditors), by their actions or omissions.

Most Argentine large corporations are family owned. The protection of employees by providing and costing their counsel is quite rooted in their practices. However, in light of the incentives set forth in Law No. 27,401, conflict could arise between the interests of the company and those of the employees under investigation for the same facts. The company could mitigate its responsibility by cooperating with the authorities in the identification of the involved employees; and high-rank executives may attempt to divert the internal corporate investigation to hide their own individual responsibilities. When the interests of the legal person and those of its employees may conflict, legal representation should not be exercised by the same counsel.

Pursuant to Antitrust Law, whistle-blowers who have committed any of the offences provided for in Sections 300 and 309 of the ACC shall be exempted from penalties established in such regulation and from the prison penalties that may be applicable to them in any case for having committed any anticompetitive behaviour.

ii Penalties

Although each of the criminal offences mentioned in Section III.i carry their specific penalties, the catalogue of sanctions mainly comprises:

  1. fines up to 10 times the value of the goods that have been the object of the offence in money laundering, terrorist financing, insider trading, and other financial markets offences, and between two and five times the amount of the illicit benefit in corruption offences;
  2. debarment from government contracting and disqualification from professional practice, or suspension of licence;
  3. partial or total suspension of activities for up to 10 years;
  4. suspension from participating in state tenders of public works or services, or in any other activity linked to the state for up to 10 years;
  5. dissolution and liquidation of the business when it has been created for the sole purpose of the commission of the offence, or when those acts constitute its main activity;
  6. loss or suspension of state benefits; and
  7. publication of an excerpt of the conviction sentence.

Sanctions are only applied by courts under a final judgment. Nevertheless, courts may order precautionary measures against business defendants, including seizing and freezing of assets (embargo) to guarantee an eventual confiscation.

In addition, as described above, civil forfeiture sanctions may be imposed pursuant to Executive Decree 69/2019 regardless the existence of a criminal conviction.

Pursuant to the Antitrust Law, residual fines7 applicable under the Antitrust Act were increased and currently amount to 8.122 billion Argentine pesos for anticompetitive practices; 30,457,500 Argentine pesos per day to penalise the breach of (1) timely notification of a merger; (2) conditions settled by the competition authorities to cease or avoid several practices; (3) compromises to cease a certain practice; and (4) an order to cease anticompetitive practices.

iii Compliance programmes

Although legal entities are not required under Law No. 27,401 to implement a Compliance Programme, having an effective programme in place may benefit the company.

As explained in Section IV.i, corporations will be exempted from penalty and administrative liability when three circumstances concur simultaneously:

  1. the legal person self-reports the offence as a consequence of internal detection and investigation;
  2. before the facts under investigation occurred, an adequate control and supervision system had been established (i.e., a compliance programme); and
  3. any crime proceed is returned (disgorgement).

Besides, according to Section 8 of Law No. 27,401, courts will take into account the internal proceedings of the legal entity to graduate the penalty. And it will also be relevant if a company spontaneously reports irregularities revealed by an internal investigation.

On the other hand, having a compliance programme is a requisite for contracting with the federal government in contracts that:

  1. owing to their amount must be approved by a minister or other authority of equivalent hierarchy (at the time of writing, 165 million or 104 million Argentine pesos, depending on the type of contract, today fixed between US$2.32 million and US$1.5 million according to the current Argentine peso–US dollar exchange rate); and
  2. are included in Section 4 of the Delegated Decree No. 1023/01 (e.g., purchase, supply, services, leases, consultancy, rent with option to purchase, swaps, concessions on the use of goods that belong to the public and private domain of the nation state) or are governed by Laws Nos. 13.064 (on public works), 17.520 (on the concession of public works) and 27.328 (on public-private partnerships) and public utility concessions or licence contracts.

To be considered adequate under Sections 22 and 23 of Law No. 27,401, a compliance programme must:

  1. be appropriate to the specific risks, size and economic capacity of the legal entity;
  2. include a code of ethics and internal policies to prevent offences in any interactions with the public sector; and
  3. lay out periodic compliance training to directors, administrators and employees.

Additionally, the programme may contain the following elements:

  1. periodical risk assessment and consequent adaptation of the programme;
  2. visible and unequivocal support from senior management ('tone at the top');
  3. internal channels to report irregularities, open to third parties and adequately publicised;
  4. a whistle-blower protection and anti-retaliation policy;
  5. an internal investigations system that respects the rights of those under investigation and imposes effective sanctions for breaches to the code of conduct;
  6. procedures that attest the integrity and track record of third parties or business partners, including suppliers, distributors, service providers, agents and intermediaries, upon contracting their services and during the commercial relationship;
  7. M&A due diligence;
  8. monitoring and continuous evaluation of the programme's effectiveness;
  9. an internal authority in charge of its development, coordination and supervision; and
  10. compliance with the statutory specific requirements issued by the national, provincial, municipal or communal levels of government.

iv Prosecution of individuals

Law No. 27,401 establishes that the criminal responsibility of corporations is independent from that of the individual offenders, and that businesses can be convicted even if no individual has been identified or judged, as long as it is found that the offence could not have been committed without the tolerance of the corporate body. This rule, and the incentives provided for cooperation, are designed to stimulate both businesses and the individuals to come forward and cooperate with the authorities in the identification of responsibilities.

In this context a conflict may arise between the company and its employees; see Section III.i.

In the context of a business cooperation strategy, an internal investigation and the enforcement of disciplinary measures are advisable, as well as an internal reorganisation to avoid the repetition of the identified wrongdoing in the future.

iv INTERNATIONAL

i Extraterritorial jurisdiction

Section 258-bis of the ACC criminalises the active bribery of foreign public officials. Additionally, Law No. 27,401 foresees that corporations are criminally liable for this offence. The elements of the offence are as follows: offering or giving money or any object of pecuniary value, or other benefits such as gifts, favours, promises or benefits, to a foreign public official for his or her benefit or the benefit of a third party, in an economic, financial or commercial transaction. A foreign public official is defined under Argentine law as a public official of another state or territorial entity recognised by Argentina, including those appointed or elected to perform a public function in government or any class of body, agency or public company where said state exerts a direct or indirect influence.

The enforcement of this offence is weak in Argentina. At the time of writing, nine investigations have been opened for foreign bribery. No conviction was yet reached, and only one indictment was decided.8

ii International cooperation

Argentina collaborates with foreign authorities in investigations as a member of bilateral, regional and multilateral treaties. For example, Law No. 26,004 on the Mutual Assistance Agreement in Criminal Matters of Mercosur, Bolivia and Chile, and Law No. 26,139 on the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. For countries that do not share a treaty with Argentina, Law No. 24,767 on International Cooperation in Criminal Matters applies. This law also regulates the general provisions of extradition, and other forms of assistance in the investigations of crimes. In addition, the FIU (as a member of the Egmont Group), and the Federal Administration of Public Revenues exchange data on a regular basis with their foreign counterparts.

iii Local law considerations

The investigation conduction could imply having access and process 'personal data' (as broadly defined by the Argentine Personal Data Protection Law No. 25,326 (APDPA)), therefore certain aspects from the Argentine Data Privacy should be taken into account.

The APDPA sets forth a strict data protection system aimed at regulating the collection, storage and use of databases and personal data which is stored or processed – even on a temporary basis – in Argentina, to allow data subjects to monitor the usage of their information, and as a consequence it states general guidelines for the legal usage and treatment of personal information.

Under the APDPA, personal data transferring to countries not granting adequate levels of protection is in principle prohibited. However, it is admitted if: (1) data subjects give their express consent to said transferring; (2) the adequate protection levels arise from contractual clauses, binding corporate rules, or self-regulation systems of the data assignor and data assignee; or (3) the data transferring is because of an exception provided by law (i.e., judicial international cooperation; banking or capital markets transactions authorised by applicable law; and international transfer taken place in the framework of international treaties to which Argentina is part).

From a strictly labour law standpoint, the general principle is that employees may legitimately consider that their emails (specifically those unrelated to their work) are private and not meant to be read by any other person. Therefore, for companies to lawfully monitor and audit their employees' email accounts (as a tool provided by the employer), it should be necessary to previously inform the employees about the company's policy and the method of monitoring. To ensure that the employer's monitoring rights and employees' privacy rights are balanced, companies shall make a cautious and properly articulated use of their rights and powers, which could be broadly defined in corporate guidelines or policies.

Therefore, it is usually understood that corporate policies on the matter should clearly establish that email accounts are of the exclusive and sole property of the company and can only be used for working purposes. Accordingly, their personal use should be considered a misconduct.

Lastly, there are no specific provisions as to the circumstances under which foreign protections for attorney–client communications are recognised in Argentina. However, by virtue of constitutional rights and public and private international law, foreign attorney–client privilege should be valid in Argentina to at least the same extent as local protections. Nevertheless, it is advisable to engage local counsel to secure these protections.

v YEAR IN REVIEW

Recent years had shown a peak in anti-corruption and anti-money laundering enforcement, boosted by both legal and regulatory reforms and a changing political environment both at the national and regional levels. High-ranking officials of former administrations were prosecuted on corruption and money laundering charges, including former President Cristina Kirchner. Law enforcement reached not only former officials but also private sector executives.

In 2019, several high-profile investigations of alleged corruption during the former governments were sent to trial. In addition, former Secretary of Public Works, José López, was sentenced to six years in prison and disqualification for life for illicit enrichment.

In October 2019, former head of cabinet to Nestor and Cristina Kirchner's administrations, Alberto Fernandez, was elected President, and former President Cristina Kirchner was elected Vice-president. After the elections, several former authorities and businessmen who had been imprisoned in the context of corruption investigations were released from prison. The current administration portrays those corruption investigations, carried out under a government of a different political sign, as instances of the 'lawfare'. Such investigations are still open and some of them have been sent to oral trial.

The new head of the Anticorruption Office has publicly criticised both Law 27,401, on criminal corporate liability for corruption offences, and the 'Repentant law'. The former was pointed as foreign to the Argentine criminal law tradition, while the latter was depicted as an extortive tool, which has been used as a means for 'lawfare'.

In addition, President Alberto Fernandez announced a reform to the federal criminal justice system, the details of which are still to be publicised and debated.

vi CONCLUSIONS AND OUTLOOK

Anti-corruption and anti-money laundering enforcement have shown a peak in recent years. New legal and regulatory frameworks in both areas, as well as in antitrust matters, have left multiple open questions that have still not received answers through adjudication. To date, there is no public information on any application for a leniency programme filed on antitrust matters, neither that any company has been yet charged on the grounds of Law 27,401.

In such context, a new administration took office in December 2019. Former head of cabinet to Nestor and Cristina Kirchner's administrations, Alberto Fernandez, was elected President, and former President Cristina Kirchner was elected Vice-president. The current administration portrays the corruption investigations that were carried out in recent years, under a government of a different political sign, as instances of the 'lawfare'. The President announced that it will promote a reform to the federal criminal justice system with the objective of avoiding its political use. However, the rapid hit of the covid-19 pandemic impeded the new government from showing a clear orientation on criminal and compliance enforcement, and no formal project to reform the current legal framework has yet been presented.


Footnotes

1 Fernando Felipe Basch, Guillermo Jorge and Gabriel Lozano are partners at Bruchou, Fernández Madero & Lombardi.

2 Section 10 of Law No. 27,401.

3 Article 177 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

4 Anti-Corruption Office, Guidelines for the Implementation of Integrity Programs (2018), p. 45. Available in Spanish at: www.argentina.gob.ar/anticorrupcion/implementacion-programas-integridad.

5 Sections 70 and 72 of the Employment Contract Law.

6 Section 43 of Argentina's Constitution and Law 25,236.

7 We refer to these as 'residual fines' because they will only apply in case any other alternative from the Antitrust Law is not applicable to the case.

8 National Chamber of Appels in Federal Criminal Matters – Chamber I – File No. CPF N° 5393/2017/5/CA1 'S J E y otros s/ procesamiento' issued on 4 December 2018.