Judge Marta Cirulli has decreed the bankruptcy of the Correo Argentino post office, owned by the Macri Group, after ruling the terminal failure of attempts at salvage.
From Spain prior to the ruling, former president Mauricio Macri published an open letter online via social networks, in which he claimed that he and his family were the targets of political persecution by the government.
Also relayed to the office of the Inspector-General of Justice, the ruling – the climax of bankruptcy proceedings since the post office called in its creditors in September, 2001 – empowers the Central Bank "to communicate the failure to all the country’s credit institutions, who must then place all sums of money and other values deposited in the name of the failed company under injunction, proceeding to transfer them to the Bank of the City of Buenos Aires under the orders of the undersigned."
The ruling also warned "Correo Argentino, its trustees and third parties to hand over or place at the disposal of the bankruptcy trustee all the assets of the debtor within five days, as well as handing over all commercial books and documentation related to accountancy within 24 hours."
The bankruptcy had been requested by Treasury Prosecutor Carlos Zaninni, who had estimated Correo Argentino’s debt (and hence of the Macri family) to the state at five billion pesos.
The ruling said that this debt alone imposed a decision against the debtor, even in the event of all documentation being found to be legally above board and accountable, which the judge called "a forced interpretation."
Calling in the creditors
The Macri Group ran the Correo Argentino post office between 1997 and 2003 when the recently arrived Néstor Kirchner administration rescinded the tender, denouncing that the company had only paid its licence fee in the first year.
In 2001, the company called in its creditors, proposing various settlements which were rejected as insufficient and “abusive” by the prosecutor Gabriela Boquín, who ruled that the debt totalled six billion pesos.
On July 1 the government, via Zannini, presented a writ to judge Cirulli rejecting the latest offer by the Macri family firm Grupo Socma, accusing Correo Argentino of wishing to "stretch out the proceedings" that commenced in 2001 and requesting its bankruptcy.
The lawyers representing Socma in this case had offered a single cash payment of 1.011 billion pesos to settle its debt to the state, modifying what they had proposed in 2016 while Mauricio Macri was president. At that time the company offered 300 million pesos in instalments, a deal which the Macri government initially accepted. It eventually backtracked on the move when faced with a conflict of interests scandal.
In the letter published last Sunday in which he accused the Frente de Todos government of a "crusade" against his family, Macri attributed Correo Argentinos’s problems to the Néstor Kirchner presidency stripping its assets, charging that “equipment, vehicles, installations, infrastructure, computer systems and money from bank accounts" had all been removed without paying a peso.
His letter alleged that the post office case was a vendetta mounted via the judicial system as manipulated by Zannini, a veteran Kirchnerite politician who served as legal and technical secretary in successive governments led by former presidents Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
Macri also aimed his fire at Boquín, saying that she never had the slightest interest in collecting the state’s debts but only in seeing Correo Argentino go bust. He appealed to judge Cirulli and Appeals Court judges María Lilia Díaz Cordero and Matilde Ballerini to “halt these assaults,” while there was still time if they did not want to "pass into history as a protagonist responsible for having contributed towards transforming our beloved country into Argenzuela."
"I do not ask for privileges, I ask for justice,” were his closing words.
The ex-president is currently in Europe to promote his book Primer Tiempo and maintain his contacts with European politicians.
Translated reproduction of Mauricio Macri’s open letter:
PERSECUTION AND VENGEANCE
The government is looking for vengeance. They are seeking to hurt me with my children as their target. This is being executed via the judicial system manipulated by Treasury Prosecutor Carlos Zannini. That’s what the Correo Argentino SA case is all about.
I will explain in this letter some aspects of what is going in the Correo case so that it is quite clear to public opinion that not only is the integrity of my family at stake but justice itself so that what is happening to me does not happen to any other Argentine.
In 2001, Correo Argentino SA leasing the postal service had to call in its creditors because that national state was not meeting its commitments to a serious degree. Indeed, within a few months of taking office, Néstor Kirchner rescinded the post office concession, violating due process. Furthermore, in an unconstitutional action, they robbed the company of all its assets – the totality of its equipment, vehicles, installations, infrastructure, (computer) systems and even the money in bank accounts. The state never paid even a peso for those assets.
From then on the Kirchnerite government rejected every proposal made by the company even though they were always approved by the bankruptcy trustees and almost all its 700 creditors.
This abnormal situation has stretched out over the last 18 years. Worn out by the political and judicial onslaught and with no expectations of finding justice, the shareholders recently approved the payment of 100 percent of the debt including full interest as the courts might determine.
Nevertheless, the government yet again rejected this proposal. On the contrary, they reacted even more hostilely and illegally than the previous presidencies of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Now the prosecutor Carlos Zannini, acting against the interests of the state and the people, has refused to collect 100 percent of the debt. Instead of that, exceeding his prerogatives, he requires sanctions and the bankruptcy of the company.
Why does Zannini do this?
Because if he accepts that the debt was paid, he could not request bankruptcy.
And why does he request bankruptcy?
Because my children were shareholders.
That’s the reason. It’s a form of attacking them to attack me. That’s the truth. It’s not justice, it’s persecution and vengeance.
Unfortunately for the credibility of the commercial courts, Zannini has obtained several rulings violating constitutional rights.
Prosecutor Gabriela Boquín rejected all the payment proposals made by Correo Argentino, being only concerned with pursuing its bankruptcy. This prosecutor does not want the national state to collect, she wants Correo Argentino to go broke. That’s strange, this is not her behaviour with other companies. Indeed, it’s the complete opposite of what she did with OIL Combustibles, the company of Cristóbal López.
On the other hand, it would be good for public opinion to be aware that if judge Marta Cirulli rejects the proposal to pay Correo Argentino’s debt in full, it will be a dark historic milestone spelling the destruction of legal security in our country. It will be increasingly difficult, if not impossible, for Argentine companies and the world at large to trust in our country enough to invest and create jobs.
I hope that judge Marta Cirulli and Appeals Court judges María Lilia Díaz Cordero and Matilde Ballerini realise that they are still in time to halt these assaults. They have in their hands the historic responsibility of preserving the courts as the ultimate space where a citizen can find judicial protection against the onslaughts, corruption and vengeance.
Hopefully, the commercial court will not go down in history as a protagonist responsible for having contributed towards transforming our beloved country into Argenzuela.
I do not ask for privileges, I ask for justice.