A local partner reported harassment and a judge intervened in a subsidiary of the maritime giant.
Danish maritime giant Maersk got involved in another fraud maneuver in Argentina after a criminal complaint by one of its partners that ended with the intervention of one of its companies.
Meridian Maritime S.A sued its partner Svitzer, the global tugboat port operator, a member of the Danish holding company AP Moller Maersk, for infidel and potentially fraudulent administration.
The complaint was filed in Commercial Court No. 8 lies with the CEO of the company, Marc Niederer and its local manager, Kees van Den Borne, as well as the lawyer of the group in Argentina Nicolás Fernández Madero and the trustees Luis Gustavo Cedrone and Horacio Julio Ruíz Moreno. On March 28, Judge Javier Cosentino decided to intervene the company.
In 2016, the local partner and Svitzer carried out a joint venture, from which Madero Amarres S.A. was formed, where 20% of the shares are owned by Meridian and 80% by Danish Svitzer.
In addition to shared capital contributions for the purpose of setting up the company in Argentina and acquiring 9 tugs to start the activity, Svitzer would contribute its international experience and the other side would do the same with its knowledge and clientele in the local market. According to the complaint made, the above was not complied with since once Svitzer achieved its entry into the Argentine maritime market using the experience of the local company in the service of maritime agency and logistics, it began with fraudulent maneuvers to own the whole business.
Meridian, the minority shareholder accuses the board established by Svitzer of emptying the company through unjustified expenses and contracts with companies controlled by the Maersk Group, such as Wijsmuller or Svitzer Caribbean Ltd, among others. According to the complainants, the company allegedly engaged in fraudulent accounting maneuvers including the submission of false accounting statements approved by the Board of Directors.
Judge Consentino had ordered the suspension of what was approved at the board meeting of last March 6, for the obstruction of the right to information that prevented Meridian and third parties from assessing the real economic and financial situation of the company.
In that regard, in order to safeguard the shareholders’ rights, the judge gave rise to the precautionary measure requested by the plaintiff and ordered an intervention to the company for a period of 90 days, which may be extended if determined by the Court.
The Maersk holding company operates in a similar way across the globe: it partners with a local company to participate in various transport or tug tenders, and once they are awarded the contracts, they pressure that local partner to keep the entire operation for themselves.
In 2017, Maersk had become entangled in a conflict that could bring diplomatic problems, after federal judge Enrique Lavié Pico restricted the operation of government-contracted tugboats that were denounced for performing tasks in the Falkland Islands without authorization from the Argentine government.
The tugboats objected to by the Justice had been awarded in 2016 in a tender by the Ministry of Energy, which accepted the participation of a UTE of which Maersk participated through the subsidiary Svitzer.