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Nuestra finalidad es promover el conocimiento y el debate de temas vinculados con el arte y la ciencia militar. La elección de los artículos busca reflejar todas las opiniones. Al margen de su atribución ideológica. A los efectos de promover el pensamiento crítico de los lectores.

Our maxim: “understanding before action”
Our purpose is to encourage the knowledge and the debate of issues connected with art and military science. Selection of articles attempts to reflect different opinions. Beyond any ideological ascription. In order to impulse critical thought amongst our readers.

lunes, 7 de abril de 2014

Los buitres sobre Lázaro Baez.

Hedge Fund Seeks Assets in Nevada in Battle Over Argentine Debt. NML Takes Aim at Associate of Cristina Kirchner and Her Late Husband.

By SHANE ROMIG and SANTIAGO PÉREZ - April 6, 2014.

Argentine construction tycoon Lázaro Báez
is in the middle of a probe launched by an Argentine court
BUENOS AIRES—Argentina's dispute with creditors took a twist as a U.S. hedge fund in search of defaulted debt is seeking to seize assets allegedly owned by a close associate of Argentine President Cristina Kirchner and her late husband and predecessor Néstor Kirchner.

The move is the latest legal long shot launched by NML Capital Ltd., founded by U.S. billionaire Paul Singer, as it chases Argentine assets across the globe in its battle over the government's 2001 sovereign-debt default on almost $100 billion. NML has tried to have courts seize the presidential plane Tango 01 in 2007 and to embargo a navy training vessel that docked in Ghana in 2012. It recently filed suit in California to block Argentina from launching a pair of satellites into space.

The latest salvo was filed in U.S. District Court in Nevada on Wednesday. NML asked the court to order 123 Nevada companies, allegedly affiliated with Argentine construction tycoon Lázaro Báez, to provide information on Argentina's assets in the U.S.

NML's efforts wade into a corruption scandal allegedly involving Mr. Báez that has embarrassed Mrs. Kirchner's administration as she heads into the last two years of her final term.

NML says assets allegedly owned by Mr. Báez, who faces an embezzlement probe in an Argentine court, could be seized to settle about $1.7 billion awarded to NML over defaulted Argentine bonds by a court in New York.

"We share a common interest with the Argentine people in identifying and recovering stolen state funds," said a spokesman for NML.

A criminal investigation was launched last year by Argentine prosecutors after a popular TV show included videotaped statements by alleged associates of Mr. Báez describing a scheme to take sacks of cash out of Argentina and launder about $65 million through a network of obscure companies in tax havens around the world.

NML said it "has reason to believe that the illicit relationship between Báez and the Argentine government may have allowed Báez to abscond with tens of millions of dollars in assets, now hidden around the world."

Mr. Báez, who hasn't been charged with a crime, has denied any wrongdoing and says the embezzlement allegations are part of a campaign to discredit the Kirchner administration and hamper the operations of Austral Construcciones SA, his flagship construction company and large recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars in public works in the deep-south Patagonian province of Santa Cruz, home to the Kirchner family.

A spokesman for Mr. Báez said that the businessman has no company or investment in Nevada or any country besides Argentina and Patagonia in particular. NML's claims are "baseless and opportunistic, seeking to capture the media's attention and fueled by diverse political interests," the spokesman added.

"This legal move seems to be a tool for political pressure against Mrs. Kirchner, since the legal foundations of this motion are unclear. It would hard to prove that the assets of Mr. Báez belong to the Argentine state," said Gabriel Negretto, an Argentine political scientist at Mexico's CIDE University.

A former bank teller, supporter of the ruling Peronist party and friend of Mr. Kirchner, Mr. Báez built a business empire as Mr. Kirchner cemented political power after he was elected president in 2003. Austral Construcciones is the largest private employer in Santa Cruz, with a staff of 3,000 and about $1.2 billion in construction projects.

Mr. Báez would have to be indicted and convicted before NML would be potentially allowed to seize assets, and trials in Argentina could stretch for decades.

Holdout creditors "are trying to find any possible opening and use that as a point of attack," said Peter Hakim, president emeritus of the Inter-American Dialogue policy group in Washington. "They want someone to say that it's not worth it and let's make a deal."

The dispute's timing is tricky for Mrs. Kirchner. Her credibility has been dented by multiple corruption scandals, as her administration struggles to contain skyrocketing inflation and capital outflows amid a slowing economy and rising social unrest.

In good times, voters aren't ruffled by corruption scandals, but they are far less forgiving when the economy is struggling, said Matías Carugati, chief economist at pollsters Management & Fit. Since October, the president's approval rating has plunged to 25% from 44%, and over two-thirds say they disapprove of how she is running the country, according to Management & Fit.

Mrs. Kirchner has been forced to implement unpopular measures, cutting subsidies and devaluing the local currency to prevent the economy form further deteriorating as political pressure intensified over her links with Mr. Báez. According to reports by Argentine daily La Nación and documents seen by The Wall Street Journal, these ties include rentals, co-ownership of property and payments for rooms in hotels owned by the Kirchners in the Patagonian resort of El Calafate.

In annual filings submitted to federal anticorruption authorities, the Kirchners have reported a sharp increase in wealth since 2003, which Mrs. Kirchner has attributed to her previous professional success as a lawyer.

Presidential spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro didn't respond to requests for comment. In December, presidential Secretary Oscar Parrilli told local radio that press reports about Mr. Báez funneling lucrative rental contracts to hotels owned by the Kirchners were "a matter of private business dealings."

After Mr. Kirchner's death in 2010, Mr. Báez erected a magnificent three-story mausoleum for Mr. Kirchner in Río Gallegos, the capital of Santa Cruz province. A commemorative metal plaque at the entrance says: "Here rests Néstor Carlos Kirchner, a Santa Cruz native who changed Argentina, and above all, a friend."

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