November 17, 2016 / 11:02 PM / 2 years ago

Argentina opposition files court case against Macri for debt sales

BUENOS AIRES, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Various members of congress in former populist President Cristina Fernandez’s center-left Peronist coalition brought a legal complaint against President Mauricio Macri on Thursday, claiming his government’s large sales of debt had harmed the state.

The action marked a counter-attack amid a series of corruption allegations against Fernandez, who left office last year and has said she could end up behind bars for what she calls “political persecution” by Macri’s center-right government.

The complaint also accused Macri’s Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay and central bank President Federico Sturzenegger of “fraudulent administration” over allegations they issued an excessive number of bonds known as “Lebac” notes, which have exceeded the total supply of peso currency in circulation.

“Fraudulent administration” is the same charge Fernandez faces. A federal judge indicted Fernandez last May over accusations that she oversaw irregularities in the central bank’s sale of U.S. dollars in the futures market at the tail end of her administration.

Fernandez stepped down in December at the end of her second term.

The central bank, under Fernandez, is accused of taking billions of dollars of money-losing positions in the futures market ahead of a widely-expected devaluation of the Argentine peso.

Argentina returned to the international debt markets for the first time in more than a decade in April after Macri’s government settled a legal dispute with creditors who had refused to accept an earlier debt restructuring.

The case had ground to a standstill under Fernandez’s government, leaving Argentina isolated from global capital markets. Macri’s government has used debt sales to pay the legal settlements with the so-called “holdouts” and to finance a fiscal deficit, but the opposition has criticized it for taking on too much debt. (Reporting by Nicolas Misculin and Luc Cohen; editing by Grant McCool)

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