Argentina’s Top Spy Accused in Brazil Corruption Case

Brazil’s Car Wash investigation, which began in 2014 with a routine money-laundering inquiry, has reverberated across South America as senior officials, including two former presidents of Peru, have been charged with accepting bribes.

The latest phase of the investigation, called Operation Discard, involves payments made by a trash collection company in São Paulo, Brazil. Police officials said that people involved in the scheme siphoned millions of dollars from public contracts by submitting bogus invoices in the name of front companies.

Víctor Hugo Rodrigues Alves Ferreira, a federal police official, told reporters that Mr. Arribas had received $850,000 from the scheme in a bank account in Argentina through a wire transfer routed through Hong Kong.

Argentina’s Top Spy Accused in Brazil Corruption Case
Argentina’s Top Spy Accused in Brazil Corruption Case

Milton Fornazari, the police official leading the investigation, told the Argentine newspaper La Nación that Brazilian authorities hoped to learn more about Mr. Arribas’s dealings after a series of search warrants were carried out on Thursday.

“We still don’t know what was the reason for those transfers,” totaling $850,000, Mr. Fornazari told La Nación. “What we know is that they were done illegally, without notifying Brazil’s Central Bank, using a classic money-laundering tactic to avoid being detected by the authorities.”

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The Argentine press reported last year that Mr. Arribas had received close to $600,000 in connection with the scandal involving the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht. The anti-corruption group Poder Ciudadano called on the government to remove him from office until the investigation was completed.

Last March, a federal judge dismissed a case against Mr. Arribas. In his ruling, Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral wrote that there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing and that the alleged actions had taken place in Brazil, “for which this tribunal lacks jurisdiction.”

Argentine opposition lawmakers will demand that Mr. Arribas appear before Congress to address the latest accusations, said Rodolfo Tailhade, a lawmaker in the lower house of Congress who is an ally of former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

The accusation by officials in Brazil “only confirms what we already knew: there had been an under-the-table payment that is not justified in any way,” he said.

Officials at Argentina’s anti-corruption office declined to speak publicly about Mr. Arribas on Thursday.

Argentina’s intelligence services have been notorious for domestic spying, often motivated by political loyalties.

Mrs. Kirchner pushed through an overhaul of the country’s intelligence agency in 2015 amid suspicion that a rogue web of spies was behind the death of a prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, who was investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center.

Mr. Nisman died hours before he was set to appear in Congress to accuse Mrs. Kirchner and others in her government of trying to derail the investigation.

Daniel Politi reported from Buenos Aires, and Ernesto Londoño from Santiago, Chile.

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