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Argentina opposition attacks Macri over Panama Papers

April 5, 2016

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s opponents attacked him Tuesday over his involvement in two offshore companies after his name appeared in the so-called Panama Papers leaks.

A lawmaker from the Left Front party introduced a bill in the lower house of Congress calling on Macri to report on “his past and present contractual and financial relationship” with companies registered in the Bahamas and Panama.

The move came after lawmakers allied with the conservative president’s predecessor and opponent, Cristina Kirchner, called for a congressional investigative commission to probe any irregularities in Macri’s finances.

Macri, who vowed to fight corruption during his presidential campaign last year, said Monday there was “nothing strange” about his offshore financial dealings.

His chief of staff sought to fortify that line of defense Tuesday, telling a press conference that the administration was “extremely calm, because there’s nothing to hide.”

The information about Macri’s offshore interests emerged in the leak of millions of documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which has put a host of world leaders and celebrities in the hot seat over their secret financial dealings.

Argentine newspaper La Nación, one of the more than 100 media organizations wading through the leaks, reported that Macri, his business magnate father and his brother Mariano were on the board of directors of Fleg Trading, an offshore company registered in the Bahamas.

Subsequent press reports said Macri was also listed as president of a second offshore firm, Kagemusha S.A., set up in Panama in 1981.

Macri did not list either company in his financial declarations when he became Buenos Aires mayor in 2007 or president last year.

Chief of staff Marcos Pena said neither company had any capital, cash flow or shares.

“It’s the same [in both cases], a company that belonged to his father, which was set up for some reason but which afterward never carried out activities, and where family members were named as directors because of issues of trust,” he said.

Macri has unleashed a flurry of market-friendly reforms since taking office, seeking to undo 12 years of left-leaning, protectionist economic policy under his predecessors, which he blames for the slowdown of Latin America’s third-biggest economy.

But in a deeply divided country, the former executive faces accusations of being too friendly to big business.

“The president isn’t a businessman anymore, but he still has the attitude of a businessman who thinks he has the right to everything,” opposition lawmaker Felipe Sola said in a radio interview on the Panama Papers controversy.

Related: Costa Rica in the Panama Papers leak

 

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