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Argentina's vice president denies wrongdoing in corruption case

Argentina's Vice President Amado Boudou denied any wrongdoing Monday as he underwent hours of questioning in court about alleged influence-peddling in the acquisition of a company with a monopoly to print the national currency.

BUENOS AIRES: Argentina's Vice President Amado Boudou denied any wrongdoing Monday as he underwent hours of questioning in court about alleged influence-peddling in the acquisition of a company with a monopoly to print the national currency.

The case marks the first time a sitting Argentine vice president has been taken to court. It stems from a transaction in 2010 when Boudou was the country's economy minister.

Following his appearance, Boudou said that his entire statement would be posting on Facebook. "I answered some questions from the judge and the prosecutor," he told reporters.

Arriving at the court to a swarm of photographers, Boudou, 51, said he was at peace with himself and had come "to tell the truth."

Federal Judge Ariel Lijo is investigating whether Boudou acquired Ciccone Calcografica through associates to negotiate sweetheart contracts with the state and the ruling party to print money and official documents.

Prosecutors suspect that Boudou, the first of seven people to be questioned in the case, "took advantage of his condition as a public official" to favour the company, according to the summons issued for him to appear.

Once all seven suspects are deposed, the judge will have 10 days to decide whether to proceed to a trial.

Boudou made a last minute request on Monday to answer the court's questions on camera, which was denied. The court had previously rejected a request that the hearing be transmitted on live television.

Boudou said he is a victim of a negative media campaign.

"As they did not let us broadcast the hearing, we are scanning the more than 30 pages so that everyone can read them," Boudou said on Twitter.

"It would be very good to have transparency and visibility in this case, which has been much talked about," said Jorge Capitanich, President Cristina Kirchner's chief of staff.

"It is an excellent opportunity for the public to learn of all the reasons and for the judiciary and a judge to act without pressures of any kind," he said.

Boudou, 51, is a flamboyant Peronist politician who plays electric guitar and drives motorcycles.

As president of the Senate, he can be tried but not arrested unless he is fired by the legislature, which is controlled by the ruling party.

The government of Kirchner supports him.

Boudou served as economy minister during Kirchner's first term, and then was elected vice president in 2011 as her running-mate.

He had been scheduled to be questioned in mid July but asked to have the session moved up, saying he wanted to clear his name.

"These fights are worthwhile. Here, what is at stake is whether power lies with the people or in the hands of just a few who make decisions," he said in a radio interview before the court hearing.

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