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Argentina Excludes Bunge From Cereals Register on Tax Debt

Oct. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Bunge Ltd., Argentina’s second-biggest exporter, was excluded from the Cereals Register by the Argentine government amid a tax claim worth 1.8 billion pesos ($378 million), the local tax agency director said today.

Being excluded will postpone Bunge’s readmission later, Director Ricardo Echegaray said today, speaking in Buenos Aires.

Bunge’s local subsidiary was suspended from the register Oct. 1, forcing the company to pay a tax rate of 25 percent to export grain, up from a previous 10 percent. Argentina’s tax agency said then it was investigating Bunge because of unpaid income taxes since 2006.

“Bunge has paid part of its debt and still needs to finish payments,” Echegaray told reporters in Buenos Aires. “The company still owes more than 1.8 billion pesos and submitted fake invoices for the tax; it will not be admitted again until it cancels all of its debt.”

Susan Burns, a Bunge spokeswoman at company headquarters in White Plains, New York, didn’t reply to a call and an e-mail seeking comment.

Argentina’s tax agency, known as AFIP, last year said that four of the South American country’s 10 biggest exporters and cereals and soybean processors underpaid taxes. Cereal-producing companies use the register to expedite exporting and reduce export taxes.

Argentina is the world’s largest exporter of soy oil, the second-largest of corn and third of soybeans.

Echegaray said the tax agency has asked local courts to seize some 50 properties owned by Bunge in Argentina to ensure payments.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pablo Gonzalez in Buenos Aires at pgonzalez49@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Attwood at jattwood3@bloomberg.net

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