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Lava Jato case opened in Argentina

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Mauricio Macri. Mauricio Macri.
Mauricio Macri. AFP

The explosive corruption investigation in Brazil that has put politicians and high profile business owners behind bars is now coming to Argentina, with the potential of involving both the enemies and the allies of President Mauricio Macri. 

The Judicial Branch of Brazil will provide documents with information about a bribery scheme involving the construction company Odebrecht and Argentine officials after a six-month judicial seal expired Thursday. 

A group of Argentine prosecutors will travel to Brasilia on Friday to meet with their Brazilian counterparts to find out how to share information, the press office of the Argentine Attorney General said. The process can take between 10 and 30 days. 

Last year Odebrecht admitted in a US court that it paid $35 million in bribes to obtain infrastructure projects in Argentina between 2007 and 2014. 

The case is part of a larger investigation that has sparked political and economic turmoil throughout Latin America. In Brazil, it indirectly contributed to the dismissal of Dilma Rousseff in 2016. 

And it could still lead to the fall of President Michel Temer and frustrate the intentions of former President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva to seek re-election. In Peru, it could reduce the gross domestic product by one percent this year. Earlier this week, a dozen leading Dominican politicians and business owners were implicated in a $92 million corruption scandal involving Odebrecht. 

In Argentina, the investigation could implicate senior officials in the government of former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, while it could also trap Macri's allies. That may explain why authorities have been so slow to look for more information on the case so far, said Mark P. Jones, a professor of political science at Rice University's Baker Institute in Houston. 

"There has been a tacit feeling that it is not in the political interest of anyone to push the case too fast," Jones said.

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