Argenfruit denies banana import fraud accusations
Mendoza-based Argenfruit is under investigation by Argentina’s Federal Administration of Public Revenue (AFIP) for price fraud, with 400,000 cartons of bananas seized on the Chilean border. In the wake of the revelations, the company held a press conference denying the accusations.
The AFIP alleges the company falsely declared imported Ecuadorian low grade fruit as high class and reaped benefits through higher prices, but Argenfruit lawyer José Previtera says this is not possible, website Diariouno.com reported.
"Ecuador fixes the minimum price for which a carton of bananas can be sold and it's US$6.90, which is the price the company buys at, but Argentina determines that because of a tariff issue it can't be worth more than US$4.40," Previtera was quoted as saying.
"These differences mean that in no way has Argenfruit incurred over-billing.
"It's not certain what we are charged with. We are concerned because the public image of the company was devastated, and this has generated harm that could end in ruin for Argenfruit."
He says the company's import operations have been almost completely paralyzed by the investigation, putting a halt to trading which sustains the business.
"There is no crime on the part of Argenfruit. We can only demonstrate [this] in the court over time, but that doesn't allow us to continue being paralyzed, to continue in this way with people out of work.
The press conference was held in a cold storage facility, where workers' union secretary general Pablo Quevedo alleged there were political reasons behind the investigation.
"We are worried about the source of work and are convinced there is a plot against Mendoza importers, so we ask the governor Francisco Pérez to intervene," Quevedo was quoted as saying.
Related story: Argentine banana importer under fire for price fraud
Photo: Diario Uno