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Argentine Tax Agency Raids Bunge Buenos Aires Office

Oct. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Bunge Ltd., Argentina’s second-biggest exporter, had its Buenos Aires office raided today by tax authorities amid a $106 million dispute.

The raid was ordered by a federal judge, said an official for the tax agency who cannot be named under government policy. Judge Carlos Ochoa is based in Rio Cuarto, in the central province of Cordoba, the official said in a phone interview.

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, the second largest of corn and third of soybeans. 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 is “cooperating fully with the authorities,” spokeswoman Susan Burns said in an e-mailed response to questions. She declined to elaborate.

Bunge, based in White Plains, New York, dropped $1.71, or 2.9 percent, to close at $57.45 at 5:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock earlier dropped as much as 4.7 percent to $56.38 after the investigation was announced.

Cargill was the biggest exporter in Argentina in 2009, followed by Bunge, according to industry ministry data.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Saponar at rsaponar@bloomberg.net

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