Don’t cry for the Kirchners

Don’t cry for the Kirchners

They may be leftists, but the current and former president of Argentina have no aversion to making money on the side.

Rory Carroll in the Guardian reports that Cristina Fernandez Kirchner, elected in 2007, and her husband Nestor, the previous president, have done pretty well for themselves:

New figures show that since Nestor and Cristina Kirchner came to power in 2003, they have presided over a remarkable sixfold increase in their own wealth.

The couple have racked up a fortune through property speculation and investments that have thrived even as the economy has faltered. Last year alone their wealth jumped 158% to £7.3m…

According to information the couple supplied to the anti-corruption office, they own 28 properties valued at $3.8m, four companies worth $4.8m and bank deposits of $8.4m. Last year they sold 16 properties, almost tripling their bank accounts, and expanded their hotel business in El Calafate, a tourist magnet. Their debts also jumped because of bank loans.

Knowing Argentina’s history of corruption, the open disclosure by the first couple of their wealth is actually kind of reassuring.

But now, with Argentina fighting to avoid a recession and public debts mounting across the country, the Kirchners would do well to apply that same financial acumen to the country’s problems. Otherwise, they will face increasingly tough questions about how they had so much time for their own finances when they were supposed to be focusing on those of Argentina.