Argentina's Fernandez Shakes Up Central Bank Before Leaving

  • Fernandez has appointed 5 central bank directors in 6 months
  • President Fernandez is due to leave office in December

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner replaced two central bank directors, completing a shake-up of the board just three months before she leaves office.

Waldo Jose Farias and Santiago Carnero will leave and be replaced by Juan Miguel Cuattromo and Flavia Marrodan, according to a decree published Tuesday in the Official Gazette. Farias and Carnero were asked to step down after they voted against removing HSBC executives in a tax dispute without allowing the bank to defend itself, La Nacion reported Sept. 4.

Fernandez, who cannot run for re-election after serving two consecutive terms, has appointed all eight members of the bank’s board in the past two years. The overhaul is part of a broader campaign to give her allies more power once she has left office and includes the creation of a new spy agency and reforms within the judicial system, said Sergio Berensztein, director of Berensztein, a Buenos Aires-based political consultancy.

“This isn’t an isolated incident and forms part of a strategy to retain influence beyond her mandate,” Berensztein said by phone from Washington. “We’ve never seen such a conclusive attempt to prolong an administration as we’re seeing now.”

Jesica Rey, a spokeswoman at the Economy Ministry, referred any questions to the the president’s office. Presidential spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Cuattromo is a former professor at the University of Buenos Aires who has served on the board of Grupo Galicia and also as a consultant at the World Bank. In 2013, he was appointed sub-secretary of macroeconomic programming by Economy Minister Axel Kicillof. Marrodan was named in 2013 as deputy manager of personnel at the securities regulator under Central Bank President Alejandro Vanoli.

In April, Fernandez appointed Barbara Domatto Conti, Alejandro Formento and Mariano Beltrano as directors.

Argentine bonds have returned 21.4 percent in the past year, the most in emerging markets, on speculation that a change of government in December will augur more market-friendly policies.

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