Argentina prosecutor asks probe of ex-president and son

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — A federal prosecutor asked on Monday that former President Cristina Fernandez and her son be investigated for possible illegal enrichment in connection to two businessmen accused of money laundering and tax evasion.

Fernandez was dogged by corruption allegations during her eight years in the presidency. Since leaving office in December she has also been included in investigations involving allegations of money laundering and state fraud.

On Monday, federal prosecutor Carlos Rivolo made the formal request to Judge Claudio Bonadio. He is overseeing an investigation of a real estate company owned by Fernandez and her son Maximo Kirchner and its ties to businessmen Lazaro Baez and Cristobal Lopez. Under Argentine law, a request for an investigation precedes any charges, which must be decided on by a judge.

The Los Sauces company was established in 2006 by Fernandez's late husband and predecessor as president, Nestor Kirchner. Prosecutors say the company rented properties from Baez, who was arrested last month on money laundering accusations, and Lopez who is being probed for possible tax evasion. Both businessmen are being investigated for illegal enrichment during the 12 years that the presidential couple was in power.

The case was launched after an opposition legislator charged that the renting of properties by the Los Sauces company covered up payments to the Kirchners for granting the two businessmen public works contracts and other projects.

Last month, Bonadio called Fernandez to testify on any role she played in the Central Bank's alleged decision to sell dollars on the futures market at an artificially low price in the months before leaving office. At the time, there was a large gap between the official rate of the Argentine peso against the dollar and the rate on the black market.

Bonadio has said selling dollars below market rate cost the government about $5.2 billion, allowing buyers to make big profits on the transaction.

Fernandez has denied any wrongdoing, saying she is the victim of political persecution.

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