July 11, 2020


International banks allege soy crusher Vicentin of diverting funds



Banks owed money by cash-strapped Vicentin are accusing the firm of diverting hundreds of millions of dollars and have asked a US court to subpoena records as part of a lawsuit, including wire transfers and bank statements, Reuters reported.


The case—brought by institutions including Cooperatieve Rabobank, ING Bank, the International Finance Corporation and Natixis—is before the Federal Court for the Southern District of New York. It comes as the Argentine government examines alternatives to Vicentin's planned expropriation.


The plaintiff institutions "seek wire transfer records reflecting activity by certain known or suspected affiliates of Vicentin...including certain non-core businesses of the families that control Vicentin," according to court papers.


"Vicentin likely improperly diverted hundreds of millions of dollars," the papers said.


A source close to the Argentine soy crusher, who asked not to be named, said the company "denies the accusations" and has always complied with official requests for information. "This will not be the exception," the source said.


Vicentin went broke after going on a credit-fuelled expansion last year, leaving farmers and banks holding more than a billion dollars in bad debts.


Argentine President Alberto Fernandez in early June decreed the "intervention" in Vicentin, once Argentina's No. 1 exporter of soy by-products, while his administration sought congressional approval for a full takeover of the company.


The expropriation plan was put on pause after the government of Santa Fe province, where Vicentin is based, offered to lead the intervention in the company. A local judge late last month reinstated the company's original administrators while the authorities ponder their next move.