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  • President Mauricio Macri, a wealthy businessman who won last year

    President Mauricio Macri, a wealthy businessman who won last year's election in Argentina partly on promises to fight corruption | Photo: AFP

Published 22 August 2016

The president's offshore firm has been linked to companies in Brazil.

The investigation over Argentine President Maurico Macri's offshore firm, as revealed in the Panama Papers, has put prosecutors on the trail of three Brazilian firms directly linked to his company, Fleg Trading.

The Real Target of the Panama Papers

“I'm going to ask (the court) to convoke Francisco Macri (Macri's father), Mauricio Macri and Mariano Macri, as presidents of (offshore society) Fleg Trading and other firms, so they explain where the money used to buy Socma Americana its shares in Owners do Brazil (came from),” opposition lawmaker Dario Martinez told Pagina 12 on Sunday.

According to Martinez, who had filed two previous lawsuits over Macri's involvement in the Panama Papers, the revelations come after Brazilian judicial authorities sent their Argentine counterparts more official documents related to the Panama Papers in a bid to track down US$9 million in missing assets.

In 1998, reported Pagina 12, Bahamas-based Fleg Trading bought 99 percent of the shares of the company Owners do Brasil from Socma Americana, three years after setting down in Brazil, where it reportedly maintained activities until at least 2007.

Owners—or Fleg then—also appears as the main shareholder of three Brazilian firms that were not previously under investigation: Itron do Brasil, Martex do Sul and Mega Consultoría Servicios e Participacoes.

Whether the three other companies were offshore or not, they were used as “Russian dolls,” said Martinez: one doll always hides a smaller one inside, until reaching the smallest at the center.

“Fleg hides its owners in a tax haven ... while Owners hides Fleg,” he said, “which makes us infer that more Brazilian firms and partners of Fleg-Owners exist, as well as many more combinations of Russian dolls.”

Investigation into Mauricio Macri and Panama Papers Delayed

Early in April, Macri downplayed the importance of the offshore firms, saying his name appeared as Fleg's director “when (his) father wished to extend Pago Facil to Brazil, but eventually could not.”

Macri is being investigated for “maliciously” omitting his personal links to offshore companies while being a sworn public official. Macri has offshore accounts that have been connected with the Panama Papers leak.

The massive leak revealed thousands of businessmen and handfuls of world leaders who had dealings with Panama-based company Mossack Fonseca, which set up offshore companies to evade financial regulations. The leak revealed that Macri secretly worked as the director of Fleg Trading Ltd. and had ties to Foxchase Trading SA company.

Macri’s government has proposed a tax amnesty bill that aims to shield tax evaders who have undeclared holdings and assets inside Argentina and abroad.

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