Argentina – Legal woes worsen for Argentina’s Cristóbal LópezBy Phil - 22 July 2019
One of Argentina’s most powerful gaming moguls Cristóbal López has received a harsh judicial setback in the case that accuses him of defrauding the Argentine tax office (AFIP) of $8,000m.
A court rejected his request for release and also denied his proposal, shared with the other two defendants in the case businessman Fabián De Sousa and the ex head of the tax collection agency Ricardo Echegaray, to suspend the trial. The court voted by a majority to reject the appeal presented by his defence team for release and also ratified his preventive detention.
The businessman is being investigated for tax evasion between 2013 and 2015. The charges also extend to Lopez’s business partner Fabián de Souza.
The investigation was first initiated on March 16, 2016 and was filed by Deputy Elisa Carrió who accused Ricardo Echegaray of illegally permitting Oil Combustibles SA not to pay in time and in a proper manner fuel tax which was in turn used to capitalize other companies belonging to Lopez namely the Indalo Group. The Indalo Group was a holding company controlled by Cristobal López, with assets in gasoline distribution, media, the food industry, infrastructure and gaming.
In addition, the complaint held that part of the money had been collected “fraudulently to meet the returns of former presidents Néstor and Cristina Kirchner, their companies and societies.”
López, a self made businessman, first began running gaming establishments in the southern province of Chubut in 1992 and then quickly expanded his gaming operations into the provinces of Misiones, La Pampa, Mendoza and then later Santa Cruz.
In July 2016, it was announced that López had transferred companies linked to his gambling business to his old business partner, Ricardo Benedicto. This included the sale of his share of Inverclub a company which operates casinos in Puerto Madero, Rosario and Neuquén and his stake in Casino Club which operates the slot machines in the racetrack in Buenos Aires as well as a number of other cities in Argentina.