Casanello finds no evidence of illicit transfers, leaves tax evasion case openFriday, April 21, 2017
Panama Papers money-laundering investigation into Macri closed
Federal Judge Sebastián Casanello has closed the money-laundering investigation derived from the Panama Papers revelations into President Mauricio Macri and forwarded on the case to other judges to determine if there any tax regulations have been breached.
The decision, which is subject to appeal by Prosecutor Delgado, comes just over after the “Panama Papers” leak, published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The leak revealed that Macri was registered as shareholder in the Fleg Trading Ltd offshore company along with his brother, Mariano, and his father, Franco — who was registered as the company’s president. Despite being elected mayor of Buenos Aires City in 2007, Macri never declared his links to the company in the sworn affidavits he had to submit because of his position as a public official.
In 2009, two years after he was elected, Macri allegedly left the company and he has always denied any kind of wrongdoing. The president said that the reason he never had included the company in his affidavits was because he never received dividends, and therefore he wasn’t obliged to reveal his involvement. Government officials, for their part, argue that since the company was owned by Macri’s father — who had declared it in his previous tax declarations — and because Macri never had any direct participation with the company’s offshore assets nor received funds — he therefore didn’t have to declare it.
Macri was accused of deliberately omitting information about his assets in affidavits he signed during his previous role as mayor. Casanello wrote in his ruling this week that evidence collected during the investigation did not point to any indication of suspicious transactions nor funds of seemingly illicit provenance. The Financial Information Unit (UIF), formally within the remit of the Economy Ministry, also said that it had not seen evidence of money-laundering. Given that the judge ruled that the funds were of licit origin, he closed that money-laundering investigation and split the case and sent them to two other judges to determine if there was any tax evasion or malicious omissions in previous tax declarations.
As such Macri is no longer under federal investigation in relation to this case, pending any appeals.
Macri was among scores of politicians and business figures internationally named in documents leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which specialises in setting up offshore companies.