Argentine Tax Agency Denies Seeking Arrests of Bunge Company Executives

Argentina’s tax agency is “not planning” to seek arrests for Bunge Ltd. executives on tax charges, said an agency official.

The official, who can’t be named in accordance with government policy, denied a report earlier today by local news website Infobae.com that said the agency is considering seeking arrests of company executives of the local unit.

Bunge, Argentina’s second-biggest exporter, had its Buenos Aires office raided on Oct. 1 after Judge Carlos Ochoa initiated an investigation based on a request by the tax agency, known as AFIP. Bunge denied that it evaded taxes in an Oct. 1 statement. Bunge is “cooperating fully with the authorities,” U.S.-based spokeswoman Susan Burns said in an e-mail the same day. Burns didn’t reply to two telephone calls and an e-mail sent today seeking comment.

Bunge owes more than 1 billion pesos ($252 million) of income tax for the past three years, Ricardo Echegaray, the head of AFIP, told reporters yesterday in Buenos Aires.

“Bunge may have evaded 1.2 billion pesos in income tax,” Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said in a post on her Twitter account today. “Unbelievable, the more they earn, the more they evade,” she said.

Tax Dispute

AFIP has the right to request arrests after a judge rules that the company evaded taxes, the tax agency official said.

Argentina’s tax agency last month said that four of the South American country’s 10 biggest exporters and cereals and soybean processors underpaid taxes. The agency didn’t name the companies in the report, which was published on its website.

Argentina is the world’s largest exporter of soy oil. Bunge was the country’s largest exporter of edible oils in 2009, according to a report by JJ Hinrichsen SA, a Buenos Aires-based researcher.

Bunge, based in White Plains, New York, rose 21 cents, or 0.36 percent, to close at $57.84 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares earlier dropped as much as 4.9 percent after the Infobae.com report was published.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rodrigo Orihuela in Buenos Aires at rorihuela@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net

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