Reuters International

Former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner gestures as she attends a ceremony at Buenos Aires' Stock Exchange, in this August 20, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci/Files

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BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Cristina Fernandez, who stepped down as president of Argentina in December after eight years in office, has been officially accused by a prosecutor of money laundering, a court source said on Saturday.

The decision follows testimony on Friday by businessman Leonardo Farina, who in a plea bargain implicated Fernandez and her late husband and former President Nestor Kirchner in a case related to money laundering and embezzling funds earmarked for public works, local media reported.

Julio De Vido, a longtime Fernandez and Kirchner ally and former minister, was also charged, local newspapers and state news agency Telam said.

Under Argentine law, a prosecutor can formally accuse, or charge ("imputar") a person they believe to be involved in wrongdoing. A judge then decides whether to call those named to make an official statement.

Last Tuesday, another Fernandez ally, businessman Lazaro Baez, was arrested for questioning as part of the same investigation.

Fernandez, 63, is due to answer questions in court on Wednesday over a separate probe into the sale of U.S. dollar futures contracts at below-market rates by the central bank during her administration.

Fernandez, a leftist leader from the Peronist party, was barred constitutionally from seeking a third consecutive term. Opposition candidate Mauricio Macri won the November election, ending more than a decade of Peronist rule.

A spokesman for the justice ministry said the government would not comment on ongoing cases.

(Reporting by Jorge Otaola; Writing by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Mary Milliken and Matthew Lewis)

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