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Argentina: Expansion of Plea Bargain in Corruption Cases

(Aug. 15, 2016) On June 23, 2016, the Cámara de Diputados (Argentina’s Lower House of Congress) approved the draft Ley del Arrepentido (Law of the Repentant) that would expand plea bargaining in corruption cases, allowing prosecutors to offer criminal suspects the opportunity to bargain for a shorter sentence in exchange for an admission of wrongdoing and provision of valuable information to further the prosecutors’ investigations.  (La Cámara Baja Aprobó la Ley del Arrepentido, TELAM (June 23, 2016).)

Argentina already allows plea bargaining under limited circumstances, such as for terrorism, drug trafficking, kidnapping, and human trafficking crimes. (Código Penal (1984), art. 41 Ter, INFOLEG, Ley 23,737 (Oct. 10, 1989), art. 29 Ter, INFOLEG & Ley 25,241 (Mar. 15, 2000), arts 2-5, INFOLEG.)  The proposed amendment, it is hoped, would be highly effective in prosecuting white-collar crimes and corruption, especially in the ongoing corruption investigations.  Corruption investigations would be better served, it is argued by the lawmakers supporting the proposal, if prosecutors were allowed to use plea bargaining so that judges could gather corroborating evidence.  (La Cámara Baja Aprobó la Ley del Arrepentido, supra.)

The legislation provides that anyone who gives truthful information that helps to solve corruption-related crimes could have their sentence reduced, although not entirely abolished. (Id.)  The draft law has wide political support from most parties in Congress, with the exception of the leftist parties.  (Id.)  In addition, a plenary session of Congress will debate draft legislation that would allow for the recovery of assets gained in corrupt transactions.  (Id.)

After its July recess, the Senate was scheduled to debate the legislation approved by the Lower House and to move it forward in order to have it passed before the end of the year. (Marcelo Hugo Helfgot, Vuelve el Congreso con la Ley del Arrepentido y la Reforma Electoral, CLARÍN (July 31, 2016).)