March 11, 2015
Thanks to D.
When I first started to look into a suspicious fire that occurred in Iron Mountain’s storage facility in Barracas, Argentina on February 5, 2014, I didn’t realize that it would take me all the way around the world – albeit online – to finally tie all the loose ends together. It is surprising how a single fire in a warehouse that facilitates the storage of corporate and government documents can enable one to document a trail of arson, corruption, money laundering and financial and political vulturism.
As soon as the news broke last year about the fire in Iron Mountain’s facility in Buenos Aires people in Argentina called foul play and claimed it was a deliberate act, arson, to cover up a major web of economic fraud, perpetrated by multinational financial institutions and Iron Mountain inc. themselves. However, only a few had been able to tie together some of the loose ends and were left with a hole bunch of other loose ends that they couldn’t tie into the rest.
To better understand the scope of the entire case lets first take a look at Iron Mountain Incorporated.
Iron Mountain inc. is a notorious multinational corporation that provides data management, storage and shredding facilities and services for companies and governments. The management team of Iron Mountain inc. is composed of people like William Meaney, a former CIA operations officer; Jack Faer, a former special agent at the FBI; Annie Drapeau with a former leadership role at JP Morgan and Ted MacLean, former management consultant at KPMG. A nice cocktail that indeed easily allows the creation of a web of international corruption and money laundering through the very corporation that they lead.
That the fire in their Buenos Aires storage facility last year was an act of arson has carefully been confirmed by Argentine police and media and by Iron Mountain themselves. This is a crucial fact because it forms the basis for the following findings in the Iron Mountain Scandal. It is the very reason why all the documents in Barracas went up in flames.
Apparently, “Argentine authorities are investigating a possibly deliberate fire in which documents from major financial institutions were lost – documents that contain information about economic fraud committed in the country,” writes TeleSUR.
“After a police analysis determined that the fire that burnt down two warehouses belonging to the Iron Mountain company in Buenos Aires in February 2014 was intentional, several questions about the links between the company and its clients and also with the Buenos Aires City government have raised. The Financial Information Unit of Argentina is investigating a conspiracy between Iron Mountain and its major clients – international financial companies such as banks HSBC, BNP Paribas and JP Morgan – to destroy documentation involving economic crimes, by causing a fire in the company’s warehouses.
The TeleSUR report goes on and says that “since 2008 the local administration started to promote the setting up of technological industries in the southern areas of the city giving them tax reduction benefits. Iron Mountain’s location was not in this area, but the head of Economic Development of the City, former HSBC executive Francisco Cabrera, intervened in order to give the company these tax benefits. It turns out HSBC was the most affected company in the fire, and it is one of Iron Mountain’s biggest client globally. … An inspector of the Secretariat of Labor of the local government wanted to close down Iron Mountain’s facilities for lack of security measures, but superior officers put a stop to this closure because of the good relationship between Iron Mountain and the local administration.”
The fact that this fire in Barracas was set on purpose is of an even greater importance when it is known that Iron Mountain has a history of being hit by suspicious fires in their storage facilities, more than often conveniently occurring at times when they or their clients are under investigation. Three suspicious fires occurred in a single Iron Mountain facility in South Brunswick, N.J. in March, 1997.
In the most recent arson case, in Buenos Aires, it is no different. The fire there came at a time when Iron Mountain inc, HSBC, BNP Parisbas, JP Morgan, Argentine president Cristina de Kirchner, Lázaro Báez and Cristóbal López were/are all under investigation in cases of corruption, money laundering and related economic frauds.
Former JP Morgan Vice President Hernán Arbizu claimed that HSBC Argentina hired JP Morgan’s employees for “advise on evasion know-how.” He incriminated himself by saying that the company he worked for helped Argentinean economic groups to evade AFIP tax bureau controls.
“The banks in Argentina are to blame for the dollars outside of Argentina,” Arbizu said in an interview with FM Blue radio station when asked about the AFIP tax evasion and capital flight complaint against HSBC.
He condemned HSBC’s refusal to deliver the documents requested by AFIP. The bank argued that they had been destroyed in the Iron Mountain warehouse fire in February 2014.
“It strikes me as odd that the banks do not have back up of their documents,” Arbizu said. “If there is proof of their involvement on the Iron Mountain fire, the banks will suffer severe sanctions.”
Call it “the Mother of the Vultures.” HSBC, the Crown Jewel of the British monarchy’s Opium Wars, then and now, found its Buenos Aires headquarters and two other offices raided Wednesday by agents of Argentina’s AFIP tax bureau, in search of documents for the tax-evasion and money-laundering case opened against the empire’s bank last February. Argentine authorities are charging HSBC with being a criminal enterprise, setting up an elaborate mechanism through which local companies could lie about their earnings.
The documents sought were not found, local media are reporting, adding that HSBC officials told AFIP agents that they are stored in facilities run by “Iron Mountain.”
Argentina has challenged HSBC to publicly denounce alleged tax evasion at the bank’s Argentine subsidiary, saying not doing so would be an act of “financial piracy”.
Tax authorities in Buenos Aires have launched proceedings against HSBC Argentina, claiming it helped thousands of wealthy Argentinians hide $3.5bn (£2.3bn) at HSBC’s Swiss private bank.
“Without tax collection, there is no government, there is no public policy, there is no state,” Mr Echegaray said. “HSBC Holdings can show it is a bank that does not harm governments… that it has an attitude of respect regarding paying taxes and the financing of states.
“Otherwise it would be a behaviour of financial piracy at an international level.”
The bank has been caught up in an international tax evasion storm, which has intensified following the leak of documents to the media revealing the scale of alleged evasion.
AFIP claims that it has evidence of 4,040 individuals using offshore accounts to hide tax on one day in 2006, after it was passed material by French authorities.
Mr Echegaray said the total amount of money illegally parked offshore could be higher, and that individuals making use of HSBC Argentina’s tax evasion included Gabriel Martino, its chief executive. He called for HSBC to fire Mr Martino.
In the case of BNP Parisbas, in August of 2013, the Argentine anti-money laundering unit, Procelac, called for the reopening of an investigation against BNP Paribas. Reportedly, 24 bank executives helped Argentinian clients launder 1 billion US dollars through Curacao, Switzerland, Luxembourg, France and other countries. During the same month the bank was fined 50 million KRW by the South Korean Financial Supervisory Service Authority for alleged price fixing in collusion with DBS and ANZ banks.
That money laundering by banks such as HSBC, who has been laundering well over 800 billion dollars, in Argentina is of course not for the ordinary working people there who are forced to pay taxes on their small incomes, like everywhere else in the world.
The special financial services are provided for the president of Argentina and guys like Lázaro Báez and Cristóbal López:
La Nacion reported that K-businessman Lázaro Báez – the number one recipient of public works contracts during the Kirchner governments – listed a suspicious US$56.3 million in income in 2011 for his flagship company, Austral Construcciones, as the settlement for an alleged dispute with “J & J Holding NV” of the Caribbean island of Curacao, claiming that it derived from a failed partnership investment allegedly made by Austral in 2009 in Belize. But some simple research by a reporter revealed that J & J Holding NV has not existed in Curacao since 1989; its registered address from that time “no longer exists” according to the public business registry in Curacao itself; and its last registered agent, Corporate Trust, also no longer exists. Furthermore, Austral had no record of ever making the investment, and the nature of the alleged partnership is inconsistent and unclear.
What is clear is that the mysterious “award” of US$56.3 million allowed Austral to balance its books for 2011, establish a trust handled by K-money trail “bagman” Leonardo Fariña and obtain up to 314.8 million pesos in loans from the state-owned Banco Nacion. (Fariña is now in jail over tax evasion charges after telling Argentine television in detail how he and Baez participated in a large-scale scheme to embezzle and launder millions of dollars in public funds on behalf of the Kirchner family.) The other interesting fact is that the money from the non-existent J & J Holding was paid to Austral through a money trail that went from Curacao (a tax haven) to Belize (a tax haven) to a trust in Uruguay, then to Austral in Argentina. Belize was a noteworthy stop on that money trail, because it is also the location of Teegan Inc., a Baez family shell company through which millions of suspicious euros passed on its way from Argentina to Switzerland. Could Teegan be involved this maneuver by Baez? Where did the 56.3 million dollars really come from?
Meanwhile, a very familiar face emerged in the resort town of Bariloche that implicated President Cristina Kirchner herself, through her hotel company Hotesur. Another “K businessman”, Cristóbal López, has been reported on here for a while. Lopez owns an inn in Bariloche called “El Retorno.” Lopez has seen “exponential growth in his wealth” during the Kirchner era, mostly through running casinos licensed by the government, as well as media companies that receive government advertising money, highway concessions and public works contracts from the government. Interestingly, Clarin and La Nacion report that guests at “El Retorno” who use their credit cards to settle their hotel or bar charges are noticing that their bank statements indicate that the company that collected the money from them was not “El Retorno,” but the Hotel Alto Calafate – an establishment 1423 kilometers away in El Calafate, Santa Cruz (a different province) and with an entirely different owner: the Kirchner family. Indeed – when Lopez’s guests pay their bills with a credit card, they are paying the Kirchners directly. The only tangible link between the two hotels is that they both contracted the same company to manage them: Idea SA, co-owned by Maximo Kirchner, the presidential son, and his friend Osvaldo “Bochi” Sanfelice. But the management company is not collecting the funds from Lopez’s guests – it’s going directly to the President’s hotel’s bank account without any legal or contractual explanation.
Alto Calafate is under investigation in Argentina for being used by the Kirchner family and Lazaro Baez to launder millions of pesos of unknown origin, after it was revealed that Baez had rented thousands of hotel rooms there from the Kirchners that were never used.
Austral Construcciones SA, Mr. Báez’s flagship construction company, was created weeks before Mr. Kirchner took office in 2003. Since the Kirchners moved into the Casa Rosada, the pink presidential palace in downtown Buenos Aires, Mr. Báez’s company has received hundreds of millions of dollars in public-works contracts in Santa Cruz, becoming the province’s top private-sector employer.
In April 2013, Argentine investigative journalist Jorge Lanata broadcast allegations about Mr. Báez’s company on his popular news show. The program aired secretly recorded videotapes of Leonardo Fariña, who said on the tapes that he managed a $5 billion fortune for Mr. Báez and acted as his courier.
In the tapes, the ponytailed, Ferrari-driving Mr. Fariña said associates of Mr. Báez loaded bags of cash onto Mr. Báez’s executive jet and carried them to Buenos Aires. There the money was taken to a financial firm informally called “La Rosadita,” he said, just five blocks from the presidential Casa Rosada. There was too much cash to be counted by hand, he said, so it was weighed to determine its value, then sent abroad to tax havens.
Federico Elaskar, the owner of the financial firm, appeared on the program and backed up Mr. Fariña’s comments.
After the show aired, Messrs. Fariña and Elaskar both retracted their statements, saying they had lied to Mr. Lanata. But the Buenos Aires prosecutor, Mr. Campagnoli, said his team verified their links to Mr. Báez and their involvement in an alleged money-laundering scheme that used a network of shell companies.
Other companies and institutions who allegedly had their documents stored in the Iron Mountain Barracas facility but haven’t (openly) filed complaints are, reportedly, Unilever, Cargill, IECSA, Nidera, Pluspetrol, Loma Negra, Arcos Dorados, American Airlines, Microsoft, Monsanto, Sidus, Laboratorios Abbot, Swiss Medical, Galeno, Los estudios jurídicos Saenz Valiente y Asociados, the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires (Ciudad Autonoma de Buenos Aires – CABA) and the federal police. The fact that none of them have called for investigations into the fire suggests that they too are pleased that the documents are gone. Who knows what they were hiding there?
In any event, the Iron Mountain inc. arson case in Buenos Aires perfectly ties all the loose ends together. Why else would a fire be started there when so many people and corporations have so much to hide and money and faces to lose?
“Suspicions about the fire first arose last year when it was revealed that of the 43 corporations that stored documents in the ill-fated warehouse, many were involved in 29 active investigations by the Economic Crime and Laundering Unit (Procelac) at the time of the fire.” – Argentina Independent
Also in the case of Ireland’s bank guarantee, during the unfolding of the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008, Iron Mountain inc. was mentioned as having assisted in getting rid of uncomfortable documents that would expose the true agenda behind that ‘agreed’ bank guarantee (bailout) for which the Irish people have to pay [1, 2, 3].
One of the final loose ends in this case regards the attack on Argentina by players such as the US government, Soros and Singer to destabilize the South American nation and continent.
Where it is a fact that Barack Soetoro and his puppet masters are aiming at Argentina’s downfall, George Soros and Paul Singer are aiming at cashing in when Argentina goes down, again, through their vulture funds.
It matches, perfect. The timing of the Barracas fire, the investigations, the attempts to bring down Argentina, the US branding Venezuela as a national security threat. One can easily see the whole picture when the dots are connected.