Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña has defended Finance Minister Luis Caputo as investigations continue into allegations that Caputo concealed information about his assets in the Cayman Islands from Argentine authorities.
“I stand by him. If I do it’s because I know him”, he said. “He makes his country and the government proud; he gave up everything to come to Argentina”.
“Caputo is one of the 10 or 15 most talented people in finance. We’re debating something prior to his arrival to public office and he’s completely convinced that his papers are in order”, Peña told Alejandro Fantino during América TV’s Animales Sueltos programme.
A Perfil and La Nación investigation in February revealed Caputo failed to declare information about his stake in offshore companies that manage hundreds of millions of dollars in tax havens.
From August 2009 to July 2015, Caputo was the major shareholder of the Princess International Group based in the Cayman Islands. He held more than 75 percent of the company’s shares.
However, he failed to include this information in legally-required affidavits for the 2014 financial year, which were presented to Argentina’s Anti-Corruption Office (OA) when he became a public servant in December 2015. He also withheld information in 2016 regarding the 2015 financial year. The omission of this kind of information is a crime in Argentina and is punishable with up to two years in prison.
“It will be cleared out in the Judiciary but we have to value everything (about Caputo)”, Peña concluded.
DIAZ GILLIGAN CHARGED
The Cabinets Chief’s comments come as disgraced former government official Valentín Díaz Gilligan was yesterday charged with money-laundering.
The former presidential undersecretary was forced to resign after a separate media investigation found he had deposited 980,000 euros (US$1.2 million) in an Andorran bank account and later omitted such information from his affidavits as a public servant.
At the time, Peña had a similar defence for Díaz Gilligan, saying the money he had deposited was related to his activities “prior to becoming a public servant.”