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  • Some of Argentina's top businesspeople are showing up in the latest Panama Papers leak.

    Some of Argentina's top businesspeople are showing up in the latest Panama Papers leak. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 May 2016
Opinion

The names on these documents suggest that taking the wealth produced by Argentine workers to tax havens is a pattern among the country’s ruling class.

The new set of documents that the Mossack-Fonseca buffet has leaked today reveal that at least one government official and several members of Argentina’s top 1 percent use offshore tax shelters as part of their business schemes. Political figures involved include Miguel Angel Gutierrez, CEO of the state-owned oil company YPF, and the first member of the Macri administration to appear involved in the latest set of leaked documents.

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Gutierrez appears as the only “beneficiary” of Chartley Trading Ltd., located in the British Virgin Islands, while a former ally of President Mauricio Macri, businessperson Francisco De Narvaez, is named in the documents as a shareholder of Willowbrook Trading Inc., based in the Virgin Islands. He is one of the owners of America TV channel, one of the five national open broadcast TV stations in Argentina, and served as a lawmaker between 2005 and 2015.

Among Argentina’s wealthy elite, who often base their fortune out of agri-business, the Blaquier family are the only ones found in the leak so far. Not only are they famous for being the owners of Ingenio Ledesma, the largest sugar refinery in the country, but also for their dubious ties to state terrorism during the last dictatorship. Carlos, Santiago, María Elena, Ignacio and Alejandro Blaquier all appear as beneficiaries of an offshore company located in Bahamas.

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But industrial businessmen are also part of the scandal, including Luis Alejandro and Alfredo Gustavo Pagani, owners of the Arcor Group, one of the largest food producers and exporters in the country and members of the Industrial Union of Argentina, which brings together some of the most influential businessmen of Argentina. They are linked to several companies located in the British Virgin Islands.

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The biggest fishes of Argentine industry involved in the new set of leaks so far are Gregorio and Jorge Perez Companc. Gregorio is one of the few Argentines to have appeared in Forbes magazine's list of the world's wealthiest and is often named as one of the five richest men in Argentina. Both of them are members of Pima Investments SA, registered in Panama. The Perez Companc family is one of the richest in Argentina and their holding has operations in several sectors from agri-business to oil companies.

Just as the previous release showed that some top businesspeople — including President Mauricio Macri and his family — exploit offshore companies, the names on these documents suggest that taking the wealth produced by Argentine workers to tax havens is a pattern among the country’s ruling class.
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