THE INVESTMENTS OF FELIPE LARRAÍN, JOSÉ R. VALENTE, BALDO PROKURICA AND ANTONIO WALKER

The private businesses of Piñera's new economic team

 


Cabinet of President-elect Sebastián Piñera.

By Catalina Albert, Pedro Ramírez and Fernando Vega

 

The sending of a new Fishing Law, the Reform to the Water Code and the Statute of the Tempters are three of the relevant projects that the next government will have to settle and that will have as protagonists the new economic team. CIPER reviewed in various official records the investments that could cause conflicts of interest in these key areas to the Ministers of Finance, Economy, Mining and Agriculture. After the scandals by the Fisheries Law and the mining royalty in his first government, it is urgent for Piñera to put a barrier between private businesses and public management.

"Today we have to build on the basis of giving a boost to investment and that investment brings us progress and growth." This is how José Ramón Valente summed up his main task as the next Minister of Economy of the second government of Sebastián Piñera. "The first stone is to reactivate investments. Chile has been losing money in investments for four years, "he added after his nomination.

Economist of the University of Chile and MBA of the University of Chicago, the partner of the consultant Econsult and advisor of Public Policies of the center of thought of the UDI, Freedom and Development, is convinced of his prescription to reactivate the economic growth. As an advisor to companies and an expert in finance - but not in macroeconomics - he has emphasized on countless occasions the importance of accelerating investment.

The role that his company Econsult has played in advising several companies -from almost all business areas- has allowed him to know first-hand the operation of different markets at the same time as a recognition within the private world. "My career gives me elements to be a good interlocutor with all sectors," he told reporters who were waiting for him on Tuesday, when asked about the conflicts of interest he might face once he formally assumes the new government next Sunday. March 11th.

In his role as economic coordinator of Piñera's presidential campaign, Valente led along with the recently appointed finance minister, Felipe Larraín, and the former president of the Central Bank, Rodrigo Vergara, criticism of the economic management of the current government, to which He accused of having an imprint "anti-business, anti-entrepreneurship, anti-private and anti-progress" (see his statements on Dune radio).

 Considered a neoliberal tom and loin, as reflected in his usual columns in El Libero and La Tercera or his book "The rebellion of common sense. Why people know more than economists and politicians ", the commercial engineer will assume a Ministry of Economy that, according to his own environment, is" challenging ". The task seduces him, in large part, because he will have to assume the coordination with other key State Secretariats - such as Mining and Agriculture - to accelerate investment processes and eliminate or moderate what the new government considers "bottlenecks" for business.

 

Sebastian Piñera

 

In the legislative, one of its main tasks will be to fulfill Piñera's promise to generate a new Fisheries Law. Last November, after the poor results of the first round of elections, the president-elect promised to review it. He did so after meeting for the first time with his former contender Manuel José Ossandón, when he acknowledged that "there was a very strong lobby that affected parliamentarians of all parties", due to the irregular financing that politicians received from fishing companies.

Valente knows the fishing sector, a business in which he has also advised large investors. In 2013, one of its companies, Econsult, competed representing international companies for the assets of the failed Spanish fishing company Pescanova in Chile. In the bid, the salmon producers Marine Harvest (Norway), Cooke Aquaculture (Canada), and Chinese investors also participated.

The reform to the Water Code and the new Sernac Law - now without sanctioning powers after the recent ruling of the Constitutional Court (TC) - will be other flanks that Valente must cover. For this, as he told his neighbors, he was "instructed" by President Piñera to work in coordination with Felipe Larraín and the other ministers of the portfolios where private investment is considered a priority: Mining (by Baldo Prokurica), Agriculture (Antonio Walker) and Public Works (Juan Antonio Fontaine). That without neglecting the other distributions.

 Valente assumes a ministry that during the previous government of Sebastián Piñera (2010-2014) was marked by problems such as the failed 2012 Census, the possible bribery in the processing of the royalty to mining after the 2010 earthquake and conflicts of interest in the Fisheries Law, three episodes that occurred when Pablo Longueira (UDI) was the minister. To that the Penta tickets paid to then undersecretary Pablo Wagner (UDI), who received that money when processing the mining project Dominga, belonging to one of the Penta controllers, Carlos Alberto Delano, are added. Wagner, in addition, was responsible for the vitiated tender process of the Lithium that initially favored SQM.

Longueira was reformed last October for bribery in the processing of the royalty, which was promulgated with an article sent by the former CEO of SQM, Patricio Contesse. And Wagner is formalized by the false ballots that he made to Penta and, after accepting the conditional suspension of his sentence for the crimes of Lithium, he had to donate $ 1 million to the Fire Department.

 

VALENTE BUSINESS

 

Valente (55) is the director of several Chilean and foreign companies such as Soprole, Transelec, Telefónica, Brookfield, Banmedica, Universidad del Desarrollo, Penta Vida, Club el Golf 50 and Cementos Bío Bío. He also serves on the board of Fundación Alter-Ego.

 According to official records, the future Minister of Economy participates (by himself or through his companies) in the companies Garreaud and Valente (G & V Trading Limited) established in 1988 with the director of companies Sutil, Luis José Garreaud.

 At Econsult, where he has been a "face" for more than 20 years, Valente figures both as a partner in the parent company and as a fund management subsidiary.

 

José Ramón Valente

 

With the former executive vice-president of Corfo, his historical partner Hernán Cheyre, he shares business in Econsult, Inversiones San Sebastián Limitada Real Estate Grupo Cuatro Mas Ltda, where the other shareholders are Antonio Mingo, Emilio Soto and Felipe Lamarca, among others.

Together with his wife, Verónica Stein Riedel, Valente is an associate figure in the consulting firms El Remanso and Los Peñascos, in addition to FAVAL SpA, which appears as his main investment: as of November 2017 he had a capital of $ 1,524 million, according to data from the Official Gazette .

 Through Injoval S.A, Valente participates in the partnership of his father and his brother Ramón Valente y Cía Limitada, which has signed contracts with the State for $ 78.8 million, as indicated by the list of suppliers available in the Public Market. The turn of this company is minor works in construction and sales of various products. The website says that they are dedicated to the import and marketing of sunglasses and opticians of "important international brands".

 

THE RETURN OF LARRAIN

 

The name of Felipe Larraín was always among the bets of the cabinet for the new government of Piñera. He was initially mentioned for other portfolios, such as Foreign Relations, but was finally confirmed at the Treasury.

The current director of the Center for Social and Economic Policies (Clapes) of the Catholic University, which arrived after the end of the government of Piñera, will leave in the coming days the entity that was his main occupation in the last four years.

From there, Larraín became in 2014 part of the Council of Leaders for Sustainable Development of the UN and member of the Advisory Council of the World Bank, which calculates the Doing Business indicator. The latter was recently at the center of the controversy, after the chief economist of the World Bank, Paul Romer, said that for political reasons the statistics of that ranking - which measures the ease of doing business - were manipulated, damaging the position of Chile under the government of Michelle Bachelet. Because the suspicions of a possible political plot initially aimed at Larraín, the former minister affirmed - through a communique - that he only participated in two meetings and that he was never contacted again.

Since 2015, he has also been coming and going from Paraguay, as an advisor to the Ministry of Finance of that country, where he proposed two reforms that Chile applied a decade ago: Fiscal Responsibility Law and a Sovereign Fund.

In 2016, he signed as director of Independencia, the largest real estate fund manager in Chile. Your resignation to this signature, will make it effective in the coming days.

In April 2016, in his capacity as director of Clapes, Larraín participated in the public hearings of the Constitutional Court where he exposed his rejection of most of the changes promoted by the Labor Reform.

 

Felipe Larraín

 

One of the investments that Larraín has criticized for a possible conflict of interest is his participation in Viña Quintay, which entitles him to a seat in the board. Under his previous administration of the portfolio, an increase in taxes was levied on liquors with more than 41 alcoholics, which excluded wine due to its low alcohol content (it remained at a rate of 15%, while the tribute for high liquors) graduation rose to 27%).

In the middle of last year, nine of the 12 members of the vineyard located in Casablanca, sold their 81.6% to the relatives of also shareholder Alejandro Weinstein (former partner of CFR Pharmaceuticals). Larraín and his historical partner, Hernán Gómez, continued in the business with Weinstein.

According to the public registers and their declarations of assets, the future Minister of Finance has 13 properties valued at $ 966.7 million, of which one has a housing destination and the rest correspond to agricultural land of its known field in Casablanca and Rio Claro (Maule Region), where he formed two companies controlled by his children.

According to the records of the Official Gazette, Felipe Larraín Bascuñán has developed almost all his business with his wife, the English teacher Francisca Cisternas Lira and their children. Inversiones El Boldal is the main investment vehicle and was created in 1992. Through this partnership, the minister and his family participate in real estate and investment advisory services.

According to the Declaration of Patrimony that was delivered in 2014 at the end of the first government of Piñera, through El Boldal, Larraín and his wife also participate in five other investment companies.

 

THE INHABILITATIONS OF PROKURICA

 

In the task of unlocking investments and promoting economic growth, Felipe Larraín and José Ramón Valente will have to deal with two key sectors: Mining and Agriculture. The holder of the first portfolio will be the so far senator for Atacama Baldo Prokurica (RN), who did not show up for re-election. Prokurica knows the sector, not only because it is one of the most important economic activities in its region, but because it is part of the Senate Mining and Energy Commission, an entity that has even chaired.

Two of the most relevant areas for the mining sector are the possible changes to the regulations on water rights and the promotion of new sources of energy. In both Prokurica could face potential conflicts of interest.

The future minister has declared participation in three commercial companies, one of investment (Cavtat Limitada) and the two remaining agricultural companies (Longomilla Limitada and Konavle Limitada). In the first figure as controller, with 90% ownership. In the last two you have 25% of the rights of each one.

The declarations of interests and assets that Prokurica has presented so far as a legislator (see the last of them) oblige it to inform if it has water rights in its name or in the entities it controls. He has declared that he does not have them. And that, according to the review that CIPER did, is effective. But one of the companies in which it has a stake, although Prokurica does not exercise its control, does have water rights. It is the Konavle Agricultural, in which the senator participates in equal parts with three brothers.

 

Baldo Prokurica

 

Konavle was created in 1997 and, according to the Official Gazette, as a contribution to its constitution, the Hacienda Chañaral de Aceituno was registered with "their corresponding water rights", which were not detailed in that registry. In addition, in March 2016, the General Water Board granted Konavle the right to extract 2 liters per second (l / s) on its Freirina land. Likewise, Konavle has made requests to establish rights to extract 8 l / s and 13 l / s from two wells, also in Freirina.

Consistent with the foregoing, Senator Prokurica has been disqualified in processing the changes to the Water Code regulations. This initiative, promoted by the current government, has aroused a lot of resistance among the entrepreneurs in the mining and agricultural sectors, who argue that it precarizes ownership over rights already established. Chile's caucuses Vamos have echoed these criticisms and are highly likely to struggle to make changes substantives in the bill, whose resolution will remain in the hands of the new Congress that will be constituted next March.

Although his vote could be key to the interests of his sector, Prokurica was disqualified in the debate. In the session on August 16, he asked the floor at the beginning of the discussion: "Although we have not yet voted on the initiative that modifies the regulatory framework for water, I am going to disqualify myself, in accordance with Article 8 of the Regulations of the Senate, by virtue of which I belong to a society with rights in that area ".

Despite its interests in water rights, Prokurica presented a bill in 2009 - along with senators Carlos Bianchi and Alberto Espina - to privilege and ensure human consumption, in conditions of water scarcity, over the supply of activities productive: "The social function of property, recognized in the fundamental charter, can also limit or force the holders of water rights," reads the head of that parliamentary motion signed by the next Minister of Mining.

In the discussions of projects that promote new sources of renewable energy, which will be key to the growth of the mining sector, Prokurica also faces a conflict of interest that has led it to be disabled in the debate. Although it was a member of the Mining and Energy Commission, it decided not to participate in these matters, because one of its companies owns land that is leased to three wind power generation projects.

However, a report from CIPER revealed that, although it had been disqualified in the debate, it nevertheless participated in the negotiations to unlock the bill that promoted the expansion of non-conventional energy sources (see that CIPER article), what benefited the sector with which I was doing private business.

Finally, another flank that can be opened to Prokurica is that his brother Nicolás -with whom he shares property in the family agricultural society- was favored last July with a sentence of the Juzgado de Letras de Freirina that constituted in his favor a concession of mining in a cloth of 36 hectares in that commune.

 

THE WALKER WATER RIGHTS

 

The name of Antonio Walker Prieto, future Minister of Agriculture, allows the new government to make a nod to the more conservative sector of the DC. Antonio is the fifth of the nine Walker Prieto brothers, three of whom -Ignacio, Patricio and Matías- are members of the phalanx with extensive experience in party positions. But just as its figure can open doors to the political center, it can also generate criticism for possible conflicts of interest.

Walker is an entrepreneur with more than three decades of experience in the production and export of fruits. Of technical agricultural profession, with studies in California, in 1988 he founded with his father, Ignacio Walker Concha, the Agricultural Walker Prieto (Wapri), one of the most important in the area of ​​Curicó and Talca. Leader of the federation of exporters Fedefruta, entity that has chaired, one of its concerns is to promote technological innovation and improve labor treatment.

He was one of the founders of Frutales Gestión 2000, a group of 14 companies in the sector that share experiences in technology transfer, and Pomanova Corporation, an entity that has twenty technicians that promote productive innovation in the fields. Your company Wapri has departments for risk prevention and social assistance and welfare, which promotes the access of its workers to social benefit networks.

 

Antonio Walker

 

Unlike his brothers in the DC, Antonio Walker supported Piñera both in 2009 and in the recent presidential campaign, but only in the latter took a leading role, as programmatic manager of the agriculture sector.

Already immersed in the political world, there are several key issues that Walker must address in his task of pushing the economic growth car together with José Ramón Valente and Felipe Larraín. One of the most important will be the accompaniment to the final process of the legislative process of the reform of the Water Code, in which it will also have to coordinate efforts with the future Minister Prokurica.

"We do not want speculation, we support that water is for human consumption as a first priority and that we must take charge of climate change, but we are concerned that legislation is wrong in the Water Code," Walker said last December, in the magazine Grupo Agro In this point, Walker has taken ownership of the rejection of the business community to the norms that would relativize the perpetuity of rights, which in the guild's opinion installs a climate of instability and discourages new investments in the field.

"We do not want speculation, we support that water is for human consumption as a first priority and that we must take charge of climate change, but we are concerned that legislation is wrong in the Water Code," Walker said last December, in the magazine Grupo Agro In this point, Walker has taken ownership of the rejection of the business community to the norms that would relativize the perpetuity of rights, which in the guild's opinion installs a climate of instability and discourages new investments in the field.

In the debate on the new regulatory framework for water rights, the future Minister of Agriculture may face a conflict of interest. His company Wapri appears in the Official Gazette requesting the constitution of rights on at least four occasions (from 1990 to 2007) in the communes of Teno and Río Claro. In total, Wapri, represented by Antonio Walker, has asked to establish or regularize rights for 279.8 l / s.

The online searchable records of the General Directorate of Waters indicate that Wapri has constituted three water rights for a total of 160.45 l / s. The first one is from September 2001 in Río Claro, for 116.6 l / s; the second of December 2001 in Teno, for 30 l / s, and the last of April 2009 in Río Claro, for 13.85 l / s.

Another pending and relevant problem for the sector is the labor status of seasonal workers, also promoted by the current government and that will have to be dispatched under the new administration. The look that Walker has on this subject, and that should be reflected in his management at the helm of the ministry, was reflected in his recent statements to the magazine Agro Group. There, Walker argued that the statute "sleeps in Congress, where so many interventions were made that it ended up harming his spirit. This was an agreement between workers and employers, and our proposal is to present it again, but it must be a clear statute for both parties. "

Regarding labor treatment, the thinking of the next Minister of Agriculture was portrayed after a meeting of Fedefruta with the then Minister of Labor, XimenaRincón, in June 2016. Then, Walker expressed the desire that future regulations establish that "no There may be a strike in the (harvest season) and collective bargaining may be agreed at a time far from the peaks of the season. " In that same meeting, business leaders insisted on the need to have a more flexible immigration law, which allows foreigners with temporary visas to work in the agricultural sector.

 


Source: Ciper
Florilegio: www.nerudanobel.info

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