Corrupt Finance Minister Watch: Miceli Goes, Patino Stays

If you had to guess, a few weeks ago, which Latin finance minister would be

forced to resign in the wake of a corruption scandal, your answer would be very

easy: Ricardo Patiño of Ecuador, who was censured by

his own congress on Friday for insider dealing in his own country’s debt –

a deal which reportedly

netted investors more than $150 million, while Ecuador itself made a healthy

$50 million. (As for Patiño’s personal take? No one knows.)

In the event, however, it was Argentina’s Felisa Miceli who


first, after investigators found $60,000 in banknotes stashed in a brown

paper bag in her office bathroom.

Miceli’s antics stand in stark contrast to the reputation of her predecessor,

Roberto Lavagna, who, although he treated international capital

markets with high-handedness and calculated aggression, was, I believe, clean.

He’s running for president in the upcoming elections, although he has no chance

of beating Cristina Kirchner, the wife of current president

Nestor Kirchner.

In a way, however, I am heartened by Miceli’s ouster: it means that if you

get caught, in Argentina, you can expect to be punished. In Ecuador, by contrast,

Patiño is, it

seems, deliberately manipulating the market all over again, despite being

caught red-handed the first time. Now that’s a country where ministers

can act with real impunity.

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