- Charge is related to accusations against Amado Boudou when he was economy minister
- He is alleged to have used his influence to give a company he controlled a currency-printing contract
- Boudou is Argentina's first sitting vice president to be prosecuted in a corruption case
Argentina's Vice President Amado Boudou has been indicted on a bribery charge related to a currency printing contract awarded, while he was the nation's economy minister, to a company he allegedly controlled.
Boudou is accused of "passive bribery and inconsistent negotiations," according to the decision from Argentine Federal Judge Ariel Lijo that was released Friday. If convicted, Boudou could face up to six years in prison.
Boudou, who was minister of economy from 2009 to 2011, is suspected of using his influence to ensure that a contract to print Argentina's currency was given to Ciccone Calcográfica, a company he allegedly controlled, judicial sources said.
The vice president, who was in Cuba on an international tour, said through his lawyers Saturday that he was surprised by Lijo's decision, and he denied any wrongdoing.
Boudou is the first acting vice president in Argentina's history to be prosecuted in a corruption case.
The accusation comes at a sensitive time for Argentina as the government battles in U.S. courts against "holdout" creditors who want full repayment of bonds left over from the country's massive sovereign default in 2002.
Boudou has rejected previous calls to step down.
According to released documents, Boudou accepted as a bribe 70% of the shares of Ciccone Litografica. Boudou also is accused of collaborating in the process of helping the company come back from bankruptcy.
According to Lijo, Boudou carried out the bribe and negotiations with the help of friends Jose Maria Nunez Carmona and Alejandro Vanderbroele, who also were indicted.
The company's owner, Nicholas Ciccone, was indicted on a charge of active bribery, and his son-in-law, William Reinwick, is accused as an accomplice.
Also indicted was Rafael Brenner Resnick, former chief of staff of the Argentine Federal Administration of Public Revenue, for presumably facilitating the payment plan to lift Ciccone Litografica -- which was beset with tax debts -- out of bankruptcy.
The judge ruled that Boudou will remain free while awaiting trial, but he must pay a fine of 200,000 pesos -- about $25,000. His defense announced late Friday that they will appeal.