|Former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (pictured) was indicted on Friday for defrauding the state as part of her government's handling of the dollar futures market|
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Former Argentine president faces 20 years behind bars as she is indicted for 'defrauding her country out of $5BILLION'
- Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was indicted Friday for defrauding state
- She, along with 14 others, are accused of selling the central bank's US dollars below market value to inflate Argentine peso
- Judge will investigate whether the move was a deliberate attempt to sabotage her successor
- Fernandez has denied wrongdoing, says she is the victim of political persecution, and places blame on current president Mauricio Macri
- Members of his administration are also under investigation
- Under Macri, the peso has weakened by about 30 percent since December
Former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was indicted on Friday for defrauding the state out of an alleged $5.2billion.
Federal judge Claudio Bonadio said a scheme to inflate the Argentine peso by selling the central bank's US dollars below market value would not have been possible without Fernandez's approval.
Bonadio is investigating whether the move, enacted in the last few months of her second term, was a deliberate attempt to sabotage her successor, the Argentina Independent reported.
The judge said the state lost more than $5billion, allowing buyers to make big profits on the transactions. The sales also created a sharp drop in Central Bank reserves.
The indictment means prosecutors can move forward and put Fernandez on trial, who could face five to 20 years in prison if she is found guilty.
Bonadio will continue the investigation with a possibility the case could be dismissed, legal experts told the NY Times, while Fernandez can also appeal the ruling.
The former president, her economy minister Axel Kicillof, former central bank chief Alejandro Vanoli, and 12 others were charged with 'unfaithful administration to the detriment of public administration,' according to court papers.
The judge also ordered a $15million embargo on each of their assets, the Independent reported.
The accusation is that the central bank took billions of dollars worth of money-losing positions in the futures market ahead of a widely expected devaluation of the Argentine peso.
The transactions referred to in the case involved $5 billion to $17 billion, according to court papers published by Argentina's Judicial Information Center (CIJ).