Díaz Ferrán tried to conceal money coming from Argentinean government

Documents detail scheme to funnel compensation from Aerolíneas Argentina

Diáz Ferrán is driven from his home after he was arrested on December 3.
Diáz Ferrán is driven from his home after he was arrested on December 3.Samuel Sánchez / EL PAÍS

Gerardo Díaz Ferrán, the former president of the Spanish Business Confederation (CEOE), and a former associate, who are both in preventive custody, tried to keep money from an eventual compensation by the Argentinean government for its re-nationalization of Aerolíneas Argentina from creditors by funneling it to an offshore account, documents obtained by EL PAÍS show.

Díaz Ferrán and Ángel de Cabo, who were arrested last month on charges ranging from money laundering and concealing assets, are being held at Madrid's Soto del Real prison in lieu of 30 million- and 50 million-euro bails respectively.

Díaz Ferrán, who operated Aerolíneas Argentina through his Viajes Marsans travel agency, is still trying to seek some 800 million euros from the government of President Cristina Kirchner de Fernández, which re-nationalized the carrier in 2009. He had filed a suit against Kirchner de Fernández's government with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington, where the case has still not been resolved.

De Cabo, a Valencia businessman who, according to prosecutors, helped Díaz Ferrán allegedly conceal his assets to keep creditors from collecting what they were owed, conspired with the former CEOE president to also keep the money they were expecting from the Argentinean government. They tried to do so through a firm they set up, Possibilitum. Part of that money has already been ordered embargoed by a Madrid court to satisfy debts accumulated by Aerolíneas Argentinas in Spain.

But documents show that on July 14, 2010 - four months before Air Comet, another airline operated by Díaz Ferrán, went bankrupt - the former CEOE president and De Cabo asked a notary in Madrid, Segismundo Álvarez-Royo, to draw up papers in which part of the compensation would be pledged as a security in favor of a company registered in the Channel Island of Guernsey.

In another contract signed with the two men, the firm, Buford Capital Limited, had promised to pay for all costs related to the lawsuit before the ICSID in exchange for getting the money and being reimbursed for the legal fees involved.

The government of Argentina has already informed the ICSID of the prosecution of Díaz Ferrán, De Cabo and Iván Losada, another suspect, who have all been in custody since their arrests on December 3. Kirchner de Fernández has refused to pay any compensation for Aerolíneas Argentina, which she took back after it was privatized because she said it was losing money.

In its argument before the international arbitration board, Buenos Aires says it had to pump a lot of money to keep the carrier going after Díaz Ferrán ruined it.

High Court Judge Eloy Velasco, who is investigating the case against the former CEOE president, has various documents in his possession that purportedly show how Díaz Ferrán and his associates tried to conceal assets.