The documents of Pandora Papers reveal new data on the route that Néstor Kirchner’s former private secretary, Daniel Muñoz, would have followed to channel some $ 70 million to the United States. Unpublished information points to the company offshore Old Wolf Limited (Viejo Lobo Limitada), piece of the framework that is awarded to Muñoz and his wife, Carolina Pochetti, in federal Justice. Despite having used a network of alleged front men and companies in tax havens with no direct connection to them, the marriage appears in only two companies, a slip in the strategy to avoid tracking the funds used to acquire 16 properties for more than 70 millions of dollars, reports elDiarioAR.
Pandora Papers, more ties of the emeritus king with tax havens after their regularization before the Treasury
The international investigation on tax havens, which emphasizes the role of the United States in the system offshore, is based on almost 12 million documents accessed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and shared with the Argentine team, which makes up elDiarioAR together with The nation and Infobae. In Spain, this investigation has been led by El País and La Sexta.
In 2016, The Panama Papers uncovered the records of one of the companies offshore used by the Muñoz – Pochetti marriage, Gold Black Limited, and the disclosure gave rise to a legal case against Muñoz and his entourage, whose investigation continued with the case “of the bribery notebooks”. Pochetti is being processed for alleged money laundering and will have to face an oral and public trial, still without a start date, along with other accused of collaborating in the alleged maneuver.
Pandora Papers sheds new pieces of this complex financial and corporate fabric: the few documents in which Muñoz and Pochetti appear as shareholders of the offshore Old Wolf Limited, key in the transfer of funds to acquire properties in the United States. For a brief period, the couple left their names connected to the offshore network. On January 12, 2015, Muñoz acquired 50% of the shares of Old Wolf Limited, and his wife the remaining 50%.
According to a document that has the handwritten signatures of the marriage, less than a month later, on February 5, 2015, Muñoz and Pochetti transferred all their shares in Old Wolf Limited to a Mexican citizen, an alleged front man of the couple, according to the court case.
The transaction was recorded in the internal documents of the law firm Trident Trust, one of the largest offshore service providers in the world, with more than 900 employees in offices in almost two dozen jurisdictions. He specializes in incorporating companies and managing trusts.
In a Trident form, the study reports that the purpose of the Old Wolf Limited company was to “own real estate.” The “origin of the funds” indicated “the purchase and sale of real estate” and “the commissions associated with these transactions.”
“Each of Trident’s fiduciary and corporate services businesses is regulated in the jurisdiction in which it operates and is fully committed to complying with all applicable regulations. Trident routinely cooperates with any competent authority requesting information. Trident does not discuss their clients with the media, “the provider that had the former presidential secretary among its clients responded to ICIJ.
Asked by the Argentine ICIJ team, Pochetti declined to comment. “He thanked the contact, but said that he does not want to make any statement in this regard,” he said through his official defender, Hernán Silva.
The Muñoz case
Kirchner’s former secretary, who died in 2016, was accused of channeling part of the money allegedly coming from corruption, especially from the illegal payments of businessmen that came to light in the case of the notebooks of the driver Oscar Centeno. Vaults, bags with cash money, alleged front men, the intervention of multiple Argentine financiers and dozens of firms and offshore bank accounts were used to erase the traces of the money route, according to the judicial investigation and the declaration of repentants, such as the former accountant of the Kirchner family, Víctor Manzanares.
As of 2010, Muñoz’s money began to be transferred to different accounts in the United States and from there to the hands of real estate agents who bought 16 properties for more than 70 million dollars, according to the judicial investigation. From condos in Miami to an apartment at The Plaza Hotel, on Fifth Avenue in New York.
According to the Justice, companies abroad, bank accounts and the acquisition of real estate were used to launder illicit money and unlink the funds from their true owner. But the entire operation had its weak link in two companies in the British Virgin Islands, an archipelago in the heart of the Caribbean. It is that there, as of 2013, Muñoz and his wife, Carolina Pochetti, reappeared as shareholders of two firms that participated in the alleged maneuver and their names remained in the documents of Gold Black Limited and Old Wolf Limited.
In a prosecution of the judicial case, signed on August 27, 2019 by Claudio Bonadio, the late judge pointed out that “the money expatriation channels” started “from our country to bank accounts in the name of companies created in the United States and controlled by firms incorporated in the British Virgin Islands: Gold Black Limited and Old Wolf Limited “, information obtained by the Justice through international cooperation with official bodies.
By August 2016, the operation had already been completed: all of Muñoz’s properties in the United States had been sold and the black money was now white money: $ 73,677,200. Part of those funds ended up in a real estate investment in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Muñoz and Pochetti had the help of alleged front men, a married couple from Mar del Plata, Sergio Todisco and Elizabeth Ortiz Municoy, according to the court case. In one of the Pandora Papers records, Todisco appears as a director of Old Wolf Limited, between November 2012 and February 2015. That date is even before Muñoz and his wife appeared as shareholders of the offshore company.
In November 2018, Ortiz Municoy declared as repentant in the cause of the notebooks and she said that every week her husband (Todisco) “visited Muñoz at the homes –of Capital Federal– on Alberto Williams streets, around Saavedra Park, and on Pedro Ignacio Rivera street.” Regarding the latter, the accused collaborator stated that “on the upper floor there was a housing department where Muñoz kept money in a vault.”
The accused collaborator explained: “Muñoz took out the money that he put in backpacks or handbags and gave it to my ex-husband, who attended this place once a week since 2010. He withdrew between 500,000 and 1,000,000 euros or dollars and sent this money abroad through exchange houses “.
Ortiz Municoy also stated that her ex-husband used mainly two financials to remit money abroad and that the maneuver began the year of the death of Néstor Kirchner. In Buenos Aires, according to his statement, he would have used Alec Tour and in Mar del Plata, Jonestur, by Oscar Rigano and Juan Carlos García Navarro. The federal prosecutor of Mar del Plata, Laura Mazzaferri, raided Jonestur and seized records that gave an account of several money transfers abroad, via the Principality of Andorra, ordered by Todisco between 2010 and 2013.
Each of Trident’s corporate and trust services businesses is regulated in the jurisdiction in which it operates and is fully committed to complying with all applicable regulations.
The beneficiaries of these transfers were companies: Successfull Ideas Inc, Harbor Golden Inc and Free Experience, which had bank accounts at the Bank of America and the Northern Trust Bank of Florida, in the United States.
In 2019, six other people were prosecuted by the late judge Claudio Bonadio for allegedly having collaborated with the laundering of Muñoz’s money through local financiers.
Thanks to the cooperation provided by the authorities of the United States and Panama to the Justice, multiple channels were detected to circulate the money through offshore companies with bank accounts in different parts of the planet. According to the investigators, three companies incorporated in Panama were used: Global Properties Holding, Jatan Company and Meteoro Company SA.
The Panamanian Oruga International Inc used an HSBC account in Luxembourg to send US $ 3,450,000 to the United States. Uruguayan Diremar SA used Swiss accounts, at UBS and Deutsche Bank, to make two transfers of US $ 150,000 each. Muñoz’s money also “traveled” through the United Arab Emirates: Kand M Enterprise used the Standard, the Chartered Bank and the NBD Bank to make three transfers to the United States that totaled US $ 2,078,850.
The funds for the purchase of the apartment in New York came from an account at HSBC Bank in the United States, between October and November 2011. On December 1, 2011, that amount was transferred to another account that the next day bought the apartment at The Plaza, adding another US $ 2.25 million in commissions.