February 7, 2017 / 9:13 PM / a year ago

Argentina to contact Brazil, Switzerland on alleged spy chief bribes

BUENOS AIRES, Feb 7 (Reuters) - A federal judge in Argentina has moved to request information from Brazil and Switzerland to determine if President Mauricio Macri’s spy chief received bribe money from builder Odebrecht in 2013, state-run news agency Telam reported on Tuesday.

While corruption charges have swirled around former President Cristina Fernandez in Argentina, the investigation of National Intelligence Agency Director Gustavo Arribas raises questions about a top official in Macri’s year-old administration.

Prosecutors are investigating whether a transfer of $600,000 from a Brazilian money changer to a Swiss bank account in Arribas’ name was a bribe from Odebrecht, the Brazil-based conglomerate at the center of a global graft scandal.

Arribas denies taking bribes or having any link to Odebrecht. He said in a statement he was living in Sao Paulo in 2013 and had declared all of his bank accounts to Argentine authorities.

The events under investigation took place well before Macri was elected in November 2015.

The formal requests for information will be sent after Feb. 21, Telam said. The Argentine judge overseeing the case, Canicoba Corral, was not immediately available for comment.

Odebrecht did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Argentina wants access to movements in Arribas’s Credit Suisse account from Switzerland and plea bargain testimony from the money changer in Brazil, according to Telam.

Odebrecht settled with Brazilian, U.S. and Swiss authorities in December, agreeing with affiliated petrochemical company Braskem SA to a record fine of $3.5 billion.

The company admitted to paying bribes in 12 mostly Latin American countries including $35 million in Argentina.

Prosecutors in Argentina are investigating four projects involving Odebrecht, the largest construction firm in Latin America, for corruption. (Reporting by Caroline Stauffer and Maximiliano Rizzi; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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