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Odebrecht corruption case against ex Argentine minister heads to trial

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Odebrecht corruption case against ex Argentine minister heads to trial
FILE PHOTO: Former Planning Minister Julio De Vido sits in a court room, before the start of a corruption trial, in Buenos Aires, Argentina May 21, 2019. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian   -   Copyright  AGUSTIN MARCARIAN(Reuters)
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BUENOSAIRES (Reuters) – A case stemming from corruption charges against Brazilian engineering group Odebrecht and former Argentine officials including ex Public Works Minister Julio De Vido will go to trial for the first time in Argentina, a judge said on Thursday.

The conglomerate is at the centre of a global investigation that involved numerous other firms that paid billions of dollars in bribes to public officials to win contracts.

“The entire bidding process was designed from the outset to award business directly to Odebrecht,” the judge, Daniel Rafecas, said in a statement sent to reporters. The contracts under investigation are from 2006 and were awarded for more than $2.3 billion.

De Vido has denied any wrongdoing and says he is being prosecuted as part of a political vendetta against members of the administration of previous President Christina Fernandez, who stands accused of other pay-to-play public works schemes.

Fernandez also says she is innocent of all charges, which are being brought to court by other judges as she prepares to run for Argentina’s vice presidency in the October election.

(Reporting by Nicolás Misculin; written by Hugh Bronstein; editing by Leslie Adler)

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