Argentina Ex-Official Arrested

Argentina Ex-Official ArrestedArgentina Ex-Official Arrested

An official in the former government of President Cristina Fernandez was arrested on Tuesday as he allegedly tried to hide millions in dollars and other currencies at an Argentine monastery.

A neighbor of the monastery called authorities after seeing a man throwing bags onto the property near Buenos Aires early Tuesday. Officers arrived and arrested a man who turned out to be former Public Works Secretary Jose Lopez.

Police initially detained him for possession of a .22 caliber rifle, AP reported.

They then discovered wads of cash as well as the watches in more than 160 packages inside the bags. Other money had been taken to the monastery kitchen and some was found in the trunk of a car.

Security Minister Cristian Ritondo of Buenos Aires Province told a news conference that Lopez was “in a state of shock” when he was arrested and alleged that he tried to bribe police.

“He later told the nuns that police had tried to steal the money that he was trying to donate,” Ritondo said. “There are dollars, yen, euros and a currency from Qatar ... It’s a lot of money.”

He did not give an exact amount because the money was still being counted.

Dario Kubar, the area’s mayor, told reporters earlier Tuesday that authorities had found more than $7 million at the monastery that is home to nuns devoted to Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima, which is about 55 km west of the capital, Buenos Aires.

The news became a trending topic on Twitter in Argentina. Local TV stations showed images of the piles of cash and later of Lopez being escorted by police to another precinct wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest.