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Thales ‘could be at heart’ of Argentine scam

Published on 18/03/2004

GENEVA, March 18 (AFP) - Argentine Justice Minister Gustavo Osvaldo Beliz said Thursday he had asked France to clarify the relationship between French defence electronics group Thales and its Argentine subsidiary, Thales Spectrum, which Argentine authorities have accused of misappropriation of funds and corruption.

Thales, formerly known as Thomson CSF, has formally denied the accusations.Beliz said he had met Tuesday with French justice ministry officials for what he called “very positive” discussions, adding that French authorities had offered “legal cooperation.”

“It’s a very important, emblematic matter, that could be at the heart of a system of corruption in Argentina,” he told journalists here, denouncing what he termed “pirate capitalism.”

He reiterated allegations made against Thales Spectrum, which he said had used its operation in Argentina to steer funds to tax havens and front companies in order to launder money and pay bribes.

Beliz estimated that the alleged misappropriated funds came to USD 100 million (EUR 82 million), of which USD 25 million allegedly went for paying bribes.

Beliz was in Geneva for the annual meeting of the UN Human Rights Commission.


                                                              Subject: France news