Former Vice President of the Republic Raúl Sendic asked Organized Crime Judge María Helena Mainard to file the proceedings against him in the case for alleged irregularities in the truncated Gas Sayago project. Through a brief presented this Friday, his lawyers Laura Robatto and Homero Guerrero stated that “criminal conduct” was not observed -as established by resolution number 951/2021 of the Board of Transparency and Public Ethics-, and that the time that Sendic was involved in the management of Gas Sayago, as president of Ancap (owner of 20% of the company’s shares), was very short.
In November, the former chief appeared before the Justice and when he left, he declared to the press: “I left Ancap in October 2013. We had just awarded the construction of the plant. Everything else happened after. I had no direct participation in all subsequent events”.
The arguments of the defense
The lawyers recall that the cause was expanded from a “management audit report”, contracted by UTE – the other shareholder of the company with 80% – and carried out by the consultancy firm Price Waterhouse Coopers LTDA.
As they argue in the brief, that report “was severely questioned and dismissed” by the director representing the Broad Front, Fernanda Cardona. They also denounce that the hierarch wanted to transmit to the Justice a copy of the Gas Sayago liquidation report, but that “the directors of the majority did not accompany her proposal.”
Beyond that, Robatto and Guerrero argued that although Brazil is still pending to send information to clarify whether the authorities of that country had mediated so that Uruguay favored the award to the construction company OAS (a Brazilian consortium accused of paying bribes to exchange of public works contracts in the framework of Lava Jato), that does not involve Sendic.
When he testified before the Justice last November, the prosecutor for Organized Crime Luis Pacheco asked Sendic specifically about that issue, but the former vice president replied that when the contract was signed he was no longer at Ancap.
Regarding the opinion of the Board of Transparency and Public Ethics (Jutep) -which on November 3, 2021 concluded that the directors of UTE and Ancap transgressed “norms and ethical principles, both constitutional, legal and regulatory roots”-, the lawyers of Sendic highlight that “the opinion is nothing more than an analysis of the ‘management audit’ awarded by UTE to PwC and that the report itself concludes that no criminal conduct was committed in relation to the general management of the GSSA project” .
The president of Jutep, Susana Signorino, said at the time that “the ethical principles of good administration, efficiency and effectiveness were violated”. The lawyer Jorge Barrera -representative of UTE- said for his part that the report could “give rise to criminal responsibilities”.
However, Sendic’s lawyers exposed before the Justice what in their opinion is a “notorious absence of criminal responsibility” of their client, so it is “inappropriate” that he continue to be linked to the case.
Why had it been included?
When Barrera filed the complaint in July of last year, he called for the former officials to be investigated for alleged abuse of duties. The lawyer argued that there were four opportunities to cancel the project and save the State the expense it incurred, despite the fact that it was known to be unfeasible.
The first of these opportunities, according to Barrera, was in 2012, when Argentina decided to disassociate itself from the project. At that time, says the lawyer, progress could already be interrupted and spending suspended. During that date, Sendic was still the president of Ancap.