Argentine Congress OKs state takeover of investigated firm

Reuters News

8/22/2012 8:10:52 PM - Reuters News

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina's Congress approved on Wednesday the expropriation of a currency-printing company whose ties to the country's vice president are under judicial investigation.

The lower house voted 145-77 in favor of the bill, which President Cristina Fernandez sent to Congress just two weeks ago. Fernandez's allies regained control of Congress last year after a two-year interlude.

The decision to expropriate the printing company, formerly known as Ciccone Calcografica, comes four months after court officials raided an apartment owned by Vice President Amado Boudou to see if he acted improperly to benefit the company.

The influence-peddling probe aims to determine whether the vice president helped the company get out of bankruptcy in 2010 and later steered a contract to its new owners.

Boudou, a former economy minister, has not been charged with any crime. He has denied any link to the company, which now operates under the name Compania de Valores Sudamericana (CVS) and is controlled by a group called The Old Fund.

The government bill in favor of expropriation said it wanted the state to regain the exclusive authority to print Argentina's peso bills.

There is precedence for the government seizing companies. In late 2008, President Cristina Fernandez nationalized the country's private pension funds. Earlier this year, she seized a controlling stake in top energy company YPF from Spain's Repsol.

(Reporting by Guido Nejamkis and Hilary Burke; Editing by Sandra Maler)