Finance Secretary Santiago Bausili has received deferred payments from Deustche Bank, where he worked before transitioning to the public sector, in 2016 and 2017, La Nación revealed yesterday. And according to Bloomberg, he will continue to do so this year.
The total payment amounts to EU $100,000 and corresponds to having arranged sovereign bond sales during his tenure. Bausili left Deutsche one month before taking office as the right-hand-man of Finance Minister Luis Caputo, in January 2016. In fact, Bausili joined Caputo in his appearance before a special committee in Congress, when he was questioned about the rate at which the government is issuing debt, as well as his offshore associations.
Sources from the Finance Ministry told La Nación that Bausili included the payments in his tax returns. However, the revelation prompted the Anti-Corruption office, led by Laura Alonso, to open a preliminary investigation on the matter anyway, Bloomberg reported. Depending on the result, the OA will decide whether to open a formal investigation. Bausili has not come out to address the matter.
Ministry representatives assured that Bausili has recused himself from participating in decisions concerning banks to hire for bond sales. Deustche Bank was hired to sell bonds in US dollars in April 2016, January 2017, and January 2018. Each time, the bank was paid between 0.12 and 0.18 percent commission on the total sale.
La Nación also reported that since taking office, Bausili met at least five times with Deustche Bank officials, being the Finance Ministry member who did so the most. “Bausili meets with a lot of entities that bring proposals along,” the news site was told.
This is not the first headache of the kind for the Macri administration. The last hiccup occurred in early February, when agro-industry Minister Luis Miguel Etchevehere returned a controversial AR $500,000 bonus he received from the Argentine Rural Society, an association that groups the country’s largest rural producers. He had presided over since 2012 until President Macri tapped him to join his Cabinet last year.
When first asked by the OA about the reasons for getting a bonus, Etchevehere assured it was a fee for his work as president of the institution. And he continued to do so for two and a half months, until yesterday.
However, the Rural Society denied this from the very beginning, arguing that there were no pending payments for his services and that this was, in fact, an “exceptional payment.”
This was a key difference, as he had been informed by the OA that he would only be allowed to keep the money if it were indeed payment for his work at the organization previous to taking office. According to the information published by La Nación, this would have been Bausili’s case.
Nonetheless, we will have to see how the events unfold and if the Secretary is advised to take a certain action regarding the matter.