Argentina's Vice President found guilty of fraud and sentenced to six years in prison after embezzling $1 billion
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The Vice President of Argentina has been sentenced to six years in prison after being found guilty of fraud.
In the live-streamed sentencing, she was found guilty by judges as the ‘criminally responsible author of the crime of fraudulent administration to the detriment of the public administration’.
Fernandez de Kirchner was found guilty of ‘fraudulent administration’ after awarding public works contracts to a friend who owned a construction firm.
However, it is unlikely that she will ever serve time behind bars due to her role, according to reports.
Fernandez de Kirchner has denied the allegations, describing the court as a ‘firing squad’.
Claiming the charges against her are politically motivated, she added: "This is a parallel state and judicial mafia."
The vice president will not immediately face prison time despite being sentenced, as her office grants her ‘temporary immunity’.
She is also expected to try and appeal the sentence, meaning the case will end up spending years going through higher courts.
In a live video on YouTube after her sentencing, she said: "It is clear that the idea was always to condemn me."
While Fernandez de Kirchner has been banned from public office, she will be able to continue in her role as Vice President while the case continues to go through the courts process.
Prosecutors said Fernandez de Kirchner had given public works contracts to her friend and businessman Lázaro Báez, arguing that the pair had an unlawful partnership while she was President of Argentina between 2007 and 2015.
Saying their fraudulent kickback scheme embezzled $1 billion through public works during this period, prosecution explained how Baez fed money back to Fernandez de Kirchner and her late husband Nestor Kirchner, who was also a former president of Argentina.
Diego Luciani and Sergio Mola, prosecuting, said the Baez company was specifically created to embezzle revenues through improperly bid projects, which in many cases were never completed after being dogged by cost overruns.
The company disappeared after the Kirchners’ 12 years in power, they said.
Baez was also sentenced to six years in prison, having already been sentenced to 12 years in prison last year for money-laundering.
According to the BBC, the case marks the first time in history that a vice president has been convicted of a crime while in office in Argentina.