One of the ships operated by Alpesca. (Photo: Stockfile)
Justice investigates alleged 'stripping' of Alpesca
Monday, November 26, 2012, 04:00 (GMT + 9)
The Office of Puerto Madryn, Province of Chubut, will investigate whether there were suspicious maneuvers that may have facilitated the alleged asset stripping of the firm Alpesca, which is the largest fish processing company in the Patagonian town.
The complaint was transferred from the Attorney General in Rawson and it is a shorthand version of the legislative session in which the provincial deputy Jerónimo García reported on a series of alleged irregularities to de-capitalize the company.
This de-capitalization could have been performed by payments made to firms in Mar del Plata, whose main shareholders would be the same as those of Alpesca, or by selling boats to these groups, Diario Jornada reported.
The chief prosecutor, Daniel Báez, said that "what we must analyze is the documentation itself to see if the sale complies with the precautions required by law."
"It is a presentation in which from the Legislature we are forwarded the stenographic record of Garcia´s statements. It was approved in legislation and it is sent to the Attorney. From there, due to a jurisdictional issue, it is re-sent to Madryn," the lawyer explained.
The document describes "the sale of two ships" and mentions "two lawyers from the area." The companies involved would belong to the same owners as those of Alpesca.
"The legal definition that exists in the Argentinean legislation, when we speak of asset stripping, is a detriment to the company itself," stated Baez.
The chief prosecutor said that at present these are all assumptions. However, he stressed: "But if a company has vessels among its capital and these boats disappear from the assets of the business, stripping is a hypothesis that should be investigated."
The fishing entrepreneur Omar Segundo is primarily interested in acquiring the firm, but first he needs about ARS 15 million (USD 3.1 million) to settle the purchase of Alpesca.
Meanwhile, Governor Martin Buzzi cautiously expressed that "the only way in which any participant can get a loan is to have real guarantees and the business operation is performed through the Bank of Chubut."
During the legislative session in which Garcia denounced the alleged irregularities, it was stressed: "We must remember that the boats own the quotas, thereby the fishing capacity is also transferred. Alpesca is worthwhile because it had 21,000 million tonnes of fishing capacity."
"But those who are selling and buying are the two lawyers who work in the same law firm, share the same law firm and this generates some kind of suspicion."
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By Analia Murias