December 16, 2017

investigation says karter properties was tied to president’s father’s fleg trading

Monday, September 19, 2016

New company linked to Macri family in Panama Papers documents

A new company linked to a close friend of the Macri family registered in the Bahamas was exposed yesterday, after an investigation delved deeper into documents leaked from the Mossack Fonseca law firm earlier this year.

The documents, globally known as the “Panama Papers,” revealed that Mauricio Macri’s name appeared in the directory of a shell company called Fleg Trading Ltd, which was run by his the president’s father, Franco, a prominent businessman known for securing big contracts with the state over the past few decades.

Now, a new firm, named Karter Properties, has been linked to Fleg, according to an investigation by local daily Página/12.

According to the newspaper, the two firms operated together, with lawyers and accountants dealing with them simultaneously in emails that ordered paperwork be carried out for both firms simultaneously.

No-one in the Macri family is directly named in the company directory for Karter, possibly a reason why its name did not surface initially, as Fleg Trading did.

The link between the two firms is an accounting firm ran by Santiago Lussich Torrent in Uruguay. Lawyers at both the Uruguayan firm and Mossack Fonseca’s lawyers in Panama were responsible for dealing with both Fleg and Karter.

Although dozens of shell firms in countries with corporation-friendly legislation, such as Panama or the Bahamas, are handled by the same groups of lawyers, in this case, the two firms were both named in documents alongside each other. No other firm was named on those documents, which requested payments for lawyers and even correspondence asking for permits for the two firms to be handled simultaneously.

Karter and Nocella

Karter Properties is linked to a family close to Franco Macri, that of Pier Andrea Nocella, an Italian film producer who is also the grandson of the late Giorgio, a close personal friend of Franco and Tonini Macri, Mauricio’s father and uncle.

Giorgio Nocella was also a director of SOCMA, one of Franco’s big-name firms historically.

Karter Properties was created in January 5, 1999, by his then 27-year-old grandson Pier, and registered at the same address as Fleg — Saffrey Square 205, Bank Lane, Bahamas, a building shared by some Supreme Court officers and the firm Gucci, among others.

In the case of Fleg, Lussich has claimed that that while Mauricio Macri did allow his father to use his name in the directory of the firm, that situation changed quickly when other employees of Franco’s firm Socma were used for that role instead. Página/12 raised doubts on that claim, saying that the replacement of the current president as a director took over a decade to come to fruition.

Karter, meanwhile, does register changes in its directory, with Nocella replaced by Uruguayan Luis Vieira Merola.

The investigation alleges Karter and Fleg were “twin” companies, although the former did not register any operations in Brazil, as Fleg did.

Fleg Trading played a role as a holding company for the Pago Fácil business of Franco’s holding in the Mercosur giants. The move was done via Owners Do Brasil Participações, a company based in São Paulo, of which Fleg Trading was a majority share-holder.

Eight months after Fleg Trading was created, towards the end of March in 1998, the company became the majority-shareholder of Owners do Brasil Participações with 99.9 percent of the firm. This occurred after Fleg Trading replaced the majority shareholder, Socma Americana (a firm where Franco, Mauricio and Mariano were registered). Nocella’s name was also included in those transactions.

Herald staff

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