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Argentine tax amnesty plan: A lifeline for a shaky peso or a magnet for organized crime

A plan to get Argentines to pull their undeclared U.S. dollars from under their mattresses and out of illegal tax havens, and deposit them in the banking system is eliciting strong warnings that it will turn the country into a magnet for money launderers and organized crime.

The government of President Cristina Fernandez dismisses those concerns, saying the proposal to accept these dollars without charging taxes or asking whether they were obtained legally is needed to finance the key construction and energy industries, which have stalled due to inflationary pressures and currency controls.

Critics say the real motive for the amnesty is to try to bring billions of greenbacks into the investment-starved formal economy, and thus stave off another crippling devaluation of the peso before October's mid-term congressional elections.