Tuesday, October 22, 2019
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ARGENTINA | 28-08-2018 10:05

Macri to visit Vaca Muerta with Techint CEO Paolo Rocca

Paolo Rocca, CEO of Techint, has clearly decided against laying low despite scandalous revelations in court that directors at his firm bribed former Kirchner government officials.

President Mauricio Macri will today visit the Vaca Muerta shale gas deposit in Neuquén province. He will be joined by provincial government officials including Governor Omar Gutierrez. 

Curiously, the president will also appear alongside Paolo Rocca, CEO of Techint, who has clearly decided against laying low despite scandalous revelations in court that directors at his firm bribed former Kirchner government officials.

A company director at the Italo-Argentine engineering firm, Luis Betnaza, admitted to making payments to former Kirchner government officials in order to shore up a near US$ 2 billion indemnity payment from the Venezuelan government over its expropriation of Techint’s Sidor firm in 2008.

Betnaza has been indicted in the so-called “notebook” investigation. He offered testimony to federal judge Claudio Bonadio earlier this month, in which he downplayed the amount of money allegedly paid, saying it totalled approximately US$ 1 million.

Héctor Zabaleta, the firm’s corporate director, is also indicted in the case and is among a handful of businessmen from the construction sector who have secured plea bargains. Unlike Betnaza, Zabaleta’s name does appear in the notebooks of former Planning minister driver Oscar Centeno.

Betnaza is believed to have travelled a number of times to Venezuela with Ternium CEO Daniel Novegil in order to negotiate an indemnity clause in the same expropriation saga. The clause forced the Venezuela government to take responsibility for any litigation stemming from Sigor’s activities in the country.

Techint has downplayed the revelations, claiming the firm's directors used back-channels through the Argentine government to attempt to protect its staff in Venezuela from the allegedly dangerous situation facing workers at expropriated firms.

US government cables from the Kirchner-era reveal Techint was actively trying to persuade then president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to intervene on their behalf with Hugo Chávez, the LetraP news portal revealed, noting that the revelations could cost the firm severe sanctions with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

-TIMES/PERFIL

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