The story that follows is a perfect chronicle of what happens when money from corruption breaks into business. Unpunished and final. It all started back in 2013, when the company San-Upmarket leader in nebulizers and small instruments for personal and health care, was sold for US$34 million to a “business group”. That operation drew attention, since, at that time, a leading company, interested and with a purchase audit, had valued it at a value close to US$10 million. But that fierce wallet buyer did not mince words and stayed with the company, even for a price that was out of the market.
At the beginning of 2019, in the midst of the Cause Revelations Notebooks, THE NATION published that the buyer was a group led by the former secretary of Néstor and Cristina Kirchner, Daniel Muñozwho acted under a network of businessmen who were later prosecuted in the corruption case for being considered lenders or participants in criminal maneuvers. Time passed and commercial justice has just declared the bankruptcy of the San-Up company. In 10 years, with a purchase in between, the company went from being worth US$10 million -although they bought it for US$34 million- to having just a couple of minor assets, with no stock of products or real estate. Emptying and impunity.
The plot of the purchase was narrated with the details that only a protagonist can tell. Víctor Manzanares, the historical accountant of the Kirchner marriage, was the one who drew the veil of the case. In his statement as repentant in the Cause Notebooks reviewed how the transaction had been and acknowledged that it was he who was in charge of the purchase of San-Up at the request of Daniel Muñoz. Everything was done in the name of Carlos Temistocles Cortezone of the defendants and once arrested in the corruption case.
In turn, as proven by Justice, in 2010, that association between Muñoz and Cortez included his partners, Ruben and Leonardo Llaneza, owners of a chain of pharmacies in Patagonia. That business began to transfer money abroad and just to start it, they deposited US$3 million in a Swiss account that, finally, ended with a maneuver from which the purchase of US$70 million in luxury properties in the United States was made. In 2019, the judge Claudio Bonadio and prosecutor Carlos Stornelli detected and seized US$4.5 in banks Julius Baer in Zurich and at the Banque Pictet in Geneva. That money would be in Cortez’s name, a third party that had acted as a vehicle for the true ownerDaniel Muñoz, succeeded today by his widow, Carolina Pochetti, also processed in Cuadernos.
That plot of corruption and money took San-Up hostage, the bankrupt firm whose president was until the last moment of corporate life. Ruben Llanezaseconded by the vice president and manager of the firm, Juan Cruz Camean Ariza.
In 2013, San-Up was a leading manufacturer of products such as nebulizers, heating pads, and vaporizers, among others, and sold to the country’s leading drugstore chains. The company was founded by Jorge Shemi and it was in January 2013 when the change of authorities was reported. Previous owners resigned (Alberto and Iván Shemi and Horacio Gruszka) and only Shemi remained with a position in the company.
Finally, the businessman withdrew and, as part of the payment for the purchase, the new owners handed over the property. in the Buenos Aires district of San Martín, where San-Up worked until closing time. Since then, the firm has been a tenant of the previous owner in exchange for a monthly lease of around $20,000, a deal that made it a bankruptcy creditor.
In August 2013, Cortez assumed the presidency of the company and placed two of his trusted men: Camean Ariza and Rubén Llaneza. In June 2018 there was a castling. Cortez became director and Llaneza, president.
In October 2018, Cortez, a Santa Cruz native known to Muñoz, was arrested on his way back from Miami. According to research he published THE NATION in September 2018 he used the signatures offshore Panamanian companies Zulmen International Inc. and Yusel Enterprises Inc. to operate part of the black money that ended up in the real estate emporium of Muñoz and his heirs in the United States.
Little by little, the relationship between Cortez, Llaneza and Muñoz’s marriage to Carolina Pochetti, arrested, repented and released in the Cuadernos case, began to be exposed. According to a document of the Panama Papers, Zulmen International Inc. made at least one transfer for US$3,500 between BSI SA, a financial entity from Lugano (Switzerland), and Citibank in New York, where the Panamanian study Mossack Fonseca had an account. The transaction receipt includes the last name “Cortez”. In the email that was sent with the documents, it was indicated that this transfer is important to “initiate the incorporation of a company”, although it did not provide more details. Subsequently, on July 22, 2013, an invoice for US$3,552.50 was drawn up and a legend was placed on the concept: “Our fees for the incorporation of a New Zealand company.”
Cortez had already registered other offshore: enrolled Neptune Commercial Enterprises en Seychelles and was listed as a shareholder of Abaco Holding Group SA (Panama), together with Rubén Llanezaowner with his brother Daniel of pharmacies throughout Patagonia and partner and president of San-Up.
Coincidence or not, that owner of San-Up happened to be on a trip with Carolina Pochetti, Muñoz’s widow, since they shared a short flight to Uruguay. According to Migration records that he was able to analyze THE NATIONthey took an Air France flight on December 20, 2016, around 9:00 p.m., and returned the next day, at 3:45 p.m.
That network of companies, millions and fresh money settled in the middle of the company that went bankrupt last week, but which had a moment of glory with the management of wealthy Santa Cruz residents. Finally, after LA NACION made public the maneuver, the consequences of criminal cases began to complicate the company.
In the second half of 2018, when the Cuadernos case and the request for the arrest of Cortez, suspected of illicit enrichment and money laundering, were already known, San-Up began to have problems. The Justice inhibited their accounts and those of their directors and the management was complicated. In October of that year, the company began to operate with its own box. It restructured its customer collection system and also negotiated a new salary payment scheme. Since then, and until March 31, the 75 workers received their salaries in installments, with delays of up to two months. In addition, the increases were limited and also the collection of awards for productivity.
In October 2020, the company filed for bankruptcy. Meanwhile, a series of product sales began to attract attention and set off alarm bells for serious suspicions of hollowing out. An example to illustrate the maneuvers. On November 21, 2021the firm sold its flagship product, piston nebulizers, to a client (Global Med) in 6474 pesos. The firm bought 12 and received a 20% discount. That is, he paid around 5,000 pesos. That same price was still quoted to other clients in December 2021, for example Salvado Hermanos or Betina Álvarez.
nonetheless, the most important purchase of that time was from the importer Arimex, to which 500 were delivered but at a value of 2750 pesos, less than half of what other buyers were paying. Finally, the bankruptcy process advanced and it was this company that offered the rescue of the company, in the judicial regime called cram down. Over the summer, Arimex made an offer consisting of several items. There was one that was a condition to follow: the sale of the entire stock of merchandise with a 45% discount. After the parties involved in the contest agreed, the judge María Virginia Villarroel authorized the sale.
The products left San-Up with a 45% discount and went into the hands of Arimex, the company that would save the company. In exchange, it delivered 131 million pesosmoney that was used to pay salaries up to the March 31, when the cessation of activities was decreed.
Ultimately, the bailout was unsuccessful and San-Up went bankrupt. They no longer had the property to operate or a single product to sell. Little and nothing remained, just the memory of dark money, which advances by force of impunity and millions. Corruption kills, but it also makes companies go bankrupt.
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