Paradise Papers Pose Problems for Argentina’s Macri
November 7, 2017
On 5 November, Argentina’s finance minister, Luis Caputo, was one of more than 120 politicians worldwide linked to tax havens in a huge data leak by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) obtained through an alleged hack of a Bermuda-based law firm, Appleby, in 2016.
Although the so-called ‘Paradise Papers’ also name Caputo’s Brazilian peer, Henrique Meirelles, and Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos, they could be most damaging for the Argentine government led by President Mauricio Macri who was implicated in the ICIJ’s first massive leak of data last year known as the ‘Panama Papers’. Macri managed to clear his name. Caputo must now do the same.
- The timing of the latest leak could have been worse. Two weeks earlier and it could have influenced the mid-term federal congressional elections which provided a handsome victory for Macri’s ruling centre-right Cambiemos coalition. However, it remains problematic. Macri is poised to roll out a series of economic reforms and austerity measures which are likely to be unpopular, and the image, however inaccurate, of his finance minister benefiting from money stashed away in tax havens will make this particularly difficult to sell.
- The leak reveals that Caputo co-founded an investment fund based in Miami, Noctua Partners LLC, with an Argentine businessman, Martín Guyot, in 2009. Caputo also managed a US$100m high-risk investment fund, under the Noctua umbrella, operating in emerging countries. Known as the Alto Global Fund, it was registered in the Cayman Islands on 3 July 2009.
- Speaking to the local daily La Nación, Caputo downplayed the significance of the Alto Global Fund which he said was “very small…for friends and family”. Caputo also said there was absolutely no incompatibility between his present role and his former responsibilities: “I was a financial adviser. I was always a manager; I never ran the company”. He said that when he assumed his post as finance minister in December 2015 he cut his links with Noctua, and he insisted that he no longer had contact with Guyot.
However innocent, Caputo’s links to a tax haven are awkward for the Macri administration as it prepares to assume the presidency of the G-20 in 2018 and lead the way in demanding greater financial transparency in the operation of offshore financial centres.
This feature was provided to EMIA by our editorial partner LatinNews.