A new information leak regarding roughly 175,000 offshore companies set up in the Bahamas published last night by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, reveals once again just how much President Mauricio Macri — and, yes, lots of other Argentines — love to keep their money in well-known tax havens.
The latest document dump reveals the holding company owned by President Mauricio Macri’s family, Socma, was part of a company set up to develop an online tourism business in the early 2000’s. That would make it the ninth offshore company that has been revealed to be linked to Macri, his family or his associates.
The company, called ViajeYa.com (travel now), is the latest in a string of other offshore companies linked to the president, revealed in April by the so-called “Panama Papers,” a much larger leak of data that included 11.6 million files belonging to Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca. The Panama Papers revealed that Macri was listed as vice president and board member of companies Fleg Trading and Kagemusha (don’t even get us started about the name choice) and that other members of the holding were also listed in several others.
The president has been charged by federal prosecutor Federico Delgado and Judge Sebastián Casanello for allegedly having omitted his participation in Fleg Trading from his affidavit. Macri has denied any wrongdoing.
ViajeYa.com was created on April 17, 2000, with an initial investment of US$10 million, La Nación reports. Neither Mauricio Macri nor his father, Franco, show up in the company’s documents. By the time it was set up, the president had already left his seat as a board member of Socma, but remained a shareholder in the company.
“Socma took part as a minority investor, invited by Banco Galicia. The projects brought to the table by Socma would be conducted in Argentina. The decision to buy 10 percent of ViajesYa.com was made by Galicia,” a source close to Socma told La Nación. ViajesYa.com’s activity in the Bahamas kept going until 2003, and was dissolved in 2004.
According to the company’s official balance sheet, Socma had 44 percent of the investment and Galicia had 27.8 percent of the shares. Yet Página/12 points out that the influence of the Macri family on the fund “on the fund in charge of opening the offshore in the Bahamas was even more significant.” Why? Between 1997 and 2000, the fund’s investments was led by Daniel Chain, current secretary of public works in the Interior Ministry who had played a key leadership role in Socma.
The leak has information about roughly 175,000 companies, foundations and trust funds constituted in the Bahamas between 1990 and 2016, and does nothing but confirm that large Argentine businessmen are big bans of setting up offshore companies at the time of doing business: Techint group, the Bulgheroni family, Matías Garfunkel, the Blaquier Family and even the sons of former President Fernando de La Rúa show up in the records. Of course, as many have been quick to remind us as soon as this latest data was released, holding stakes in offshore companies is not in itself illegal.
Macri’s ties with ViajeYa.com are similar to the ones he could have with other companies revealed in the Panama Papers where members of Sevel, a company that is part of the Macri family’s holdings, are listed as directors and/or board members. They are:
- Orion Alliance Corporation
- Atoll Services Group Inc.
- Pymore Ventures Holding SA
- Danae Alliance Company SA
- Aspent Portfolio SA
- Rockford Holding Group