Argentina’s Energy Minister Sold Shell Shares After Pushback

Argentina's Macri: Confident in VP, Energy Minister
  • Tax declarations show he owns $1 million worth of Shell shares
  • Aranguren was chief executive officer of Shell Argentina

Argentina’s Energy and Mining Minister, Juan Jose Aranguren, has sold his shares of Royal Dutch Shell Plc following criticism from anti-graft authorities, President Mauricio Macri said.

Aranguren, formerly the chief executive officer of Shell Argentina, sold his shares in the company, Macri said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Tuesday. Earlier, the minister was excused from all dealings with Shell in Argentina, according to a decree published in the official gazette. The minister, who owned $16 million pesos ($1 million) shares in the company according to reports of his tax documents for 2015, received a non-binding recommendation on Monday from the anti-graft office to sell his stock.

Calls and emails to the energy ministry seeking comment were not immediately returned.

"Shell has an activity in Argentina that is minor compared to its global operations, but I understand that the forms are important," Macri said. "I believe that Argentina needs to heal that damage that corruption did."

The energy minister will be replaced by Production Minister Francisco Cabrera in any proceedings that relate to Shell, according to the resolution published on Tuesday and signed by Macri and cabinet chief Marcos Pena. The decree notes that Aranguren requested that the government "excuse him from participating in proceedings" related to Shell or other companies linked to it.

Since taking office in December, Macri has pledged to increase transparency and fight corruption in the government. A series of graft scandals related to former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and some of her closest officers are under investigation by the judiciary. A recent robbery of $67,000 in cash from Macri’s Vice President Gabriela Michetti residency has also raised questions on the origins of the money.

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