Jorge Horacio Brito
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|Jorge Horacio Brito|
July 23, 1952 |
Buenos Aires, Argentina
|Occupation||Banker and businessman|
|Known for||founder and CEO of Banco Macro, Former President and Chairman of ADEBA|
Jorge Horacio Brito (born July 23, 1952) is an Argentine banker and businessman,CEO of Argentina's largest bank, Macro Bank (Banco Macro). He was also the President and Chairman of Argentine Banking Association (ADEBA).
He was implicated in Boudougate, also known as the Ciccone case, a political and financial scandal that erupted in February 2012. and was identified by the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires in cables written in 2008 and 2009, and later made public by Wikileaks, as “Kirchner's banker,” Brito has been described as "an essential figure in the ruling party". However, he had criticized Cristina Kirchner's policies and said that she left Argentina in a deep crisis that the government of Mauricio Macri will find hard to overtake.
Early life and education
Banking and finance
He founded Anglia, a brokerage firm, in 1976 and, in 1985, purchased a competing brokerage, Financiera Macro, forming Macro Bank (Banco Macro). He was named Chairman of the Board of Directors in June 1988 and cultivated close relationships with leading officials in the governments of both Raúl Alfonsín and Carlos Menem. During the Menem presidency, Brito came under criticism for allegations of favorable treatment for one of Macro's largest borrowers, leather manufacturer Emir Yoma (Menem's brother-in-law), particularly after Macro's 1995 rescue by the Central Bank of Argentina. Under Brito's leadership, Macro Bank grew steadily with the acquisition of numerous provincial banks privatized during the 1990s, including the Bank of Salta (his native province) and of neighboring Tucumán Province.
Macro Bank grew to become one of the major private banks of Argentina, with several branches around country. Brito is the chairman of Macro Bank's board of directors, its Chief Executive Officer, and a member of its executive committee and senior credit committee.
Brito became chairman of the Argentine Banking Association (ADEBA) on April 8, 2003 until 2016, when was succeed by Daniel Llambías, chairman of Grupo Financiero Galicia owner of Banco Galicia. ADEBA was founded in 1972 and is part of the G-6 Group, which unites the main Argentine business entities such as the Argentine Industrial Union, the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange, the Argentine Construction Chamber, the Argentine Chamber of Commerce, and the Argentine Rural Society. The Group organizes debates related with domestic economy and development.
Brito serves as chairman of the boards of directors of Banco del Tucuman S.A., Inversora Juramento S.A., and Banco Privado de Inversiones S.A. He is the founder and CEO of Banco Macro, and oversees investments in diverse activities such as real estate (through Vizora), and in farming and cattle raising through Inversora Juramento Inc., Frigoríficos Bermejo Inc. cold storages and Cabañas Juramento Inc. butcher shops. Moreover, he owns a share of Genneia Inc., an energy sector company. He also serves as chairman of the board of directors of YPF, long the largest petroleum producer and refiner in Argentina. Brito was among those who expressed interest in the purchase of 20% of the Madrid-based Repsol's ownership of the former state oil concern, when these shares were offered for sale in 2007.
Between 2012 and 2014, Jorge Brito was the president of the Latin America Banking Federation (FELABAN), a non-profit organization whose aim is to ease and promote relationships between all Latin American financing entities.
Brito was mentioned in cables written in 2008 and 2009 by the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, later made public by Wikileaks, as having had a close connection to the late President Néstor Kirchner and a less intimate relationship with current President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
Brito invested in real estate through Vizora, an Argentine firm involved in real estate activities in Argentina and in the region. Its core business is real estate development and marketing. Another of Brito's significant business interests is in real estate. His Vizora Developers purchased a prime, 2.5-hectare (6 acre) property in San Isidro (a northern suburb of Buenos Aires) for the construction of a condominium complex and an 11-hectare (28 acre) lot in Buenos Aires' burgeoning Puerto Madero area, where the group was involved in a US$160 million project. It has been actively engaged in the real estate development of the district of Puerto Madero, in Buenos Aires, where it had built Remeros Beach, Link Towers, Madero Walk, Madero Walk Eventos and Zen City. He has similarly invested in local luxury hotels, country clubs, and other upmarket real estate, including Central Tucumano (San Miguel de Tucumán), Arboris (Las Lomas and La Horqueta, at San Isidro), and the new and sustainable building of the Macro Bank at Catalinas Norte, Buenos Aires City.
Macro Bank participated in the construction of Madero Center, a Puerto Madero mixed use development midrise in which Brito owns an apartment, as do his son, President Cristina Kirchner, Vice President Amado Boudou, and partners in the London Supply firm (which was implicated in Boudougate).
Agriculture and livestock
Brito’s companies of farming and cattle raising activities involve cow breeding and meat industrialization and commercialization, and to a lesser extent, agricultural sowing activities, mainly in soy. Inversora Juramento Inc. is in charge of cattle breeding. Frigoríficos Bermejo cold storage is engaged in industrial slaughtering and meat industrialization that reaches the consumer through Cabañas Juramento Inc. butcher shops.
Inversora Juramento Inc., founded in 1990, is one of the leading farming-cattle companies in the Argentine Northern Region. Because of its high quality standards, it is considered a model company. It is located in the town of Joaquín V. González, Salta, where it owns 67,000 hectares of field and 54,000 heads of cattle. Its core activity is the manufacture and trading of beef. Moreover, the company sows around 12,600 hectares per year. 8,000 hectares are soya fields. It also sows sorghum, alfalfa and corn, which are used to feed the cattle.
Frigoríficos Bermejo Inc. is a cold storage located in Pichanal, Salta. It owns a model industrial slaughtering and meat industrialization beef plant. The factory can monthly slaughter 10,000 heads of cattle. Wholesale and retail sales of Frigoríficos Bermejo Inc. are carried out in Salta and Jujuy by their own butcher shops and sales team. The company also exports to Chile and the European Union, which are markets that had approved their industrial processes.
Cabaña Juramento Inc. is a chain of boutique butcher shops that operate stores and online delivery services.
Brito is viewed as having long pursued a pragmatic approach to Argentina's fast-changing political panorama, and has been a vocal supporter of Kirchnerism since its advent in 2003, endorsing former President Cristina Kirchner's candidacy in 2007. He has been described as “Kirchner's banker.” According to one source, Brito “always knew how to be close to power and to do business with them”
Brito “was the first banker who approached Kirchner before the end of 2003,” according to Urgente 24 in a 2014 article. He explained to Kirchner that his obligation as a banker was to help the government out of the financial crisis. Brito used his firm Facimex to carry out various financial operations on behalf of the late President Néstor Kirchner as well as in the irregular financial arrangements that later became the subject of the Boudougate investigations. Invernes SA, of which Brito is a director, was closely involved with Ernesto Clarens, who managed “confidential financial activities” for Néstor Kirchner.
A June 2014Seprin article called Brito “the preferred banker of the government,” stating that although he had been accused of causing devaluations,” he still had “the confidence of the president,” namely Cristina Fernandez, because Brito was in a position to “sink the reputation” of Néstor Kirchner. Brito is said to have been less intimate with Cristina Kirchner than he was with her late husband, however. At one point she became convinced that he was favoring his longtime friend Sergio Massa over her as a president candidate. She reportedly “shook up” Brito on July 31, 2014, when she accused him, though not by name, of posing as a “savior of his country,” who not only lacked a horse, unlike most heroes, but also lacked “honesty.” Since then, he became another critical voice against Cristina Kirchner's Economy policies and described many regulations and measures as "unnecessary" that brought deficit and inflation. Recently he expressed his support to the Presidency of Mauricio Macri and said that he agrees "to the inflation targets, the bringing into line of the foreign exchange rate, the gradual elimination of subsidies, the gradual strategy and the solution adopted to regularize foreign external debt". He also showed his support by stating that "putting an end to Argentina’s sovereign debt default was very positive. One needs to be patient now to see the results, things will not change overnight".
Brito owns a bank in the Bahamas, which is officially a branch of Macro Bank, and which changed its name from Pasó de Sud Bank & Trust Company to Macro Bank Limited. This Bahamas bank held at least US$10.4 million for the firm Austral Construcciones, owned by “Kirchner businessman” Lázaro Báez, the central figure in the “K-Money” scandal. The bank's activities in this matter were investigated by judicial officials in Liechtenstein for corruption, but the investigation was terminated when a firm registered in the Seychelles, Trade 24 Limited, assumed the blame for any irregularities.
A 2014 report noted that Carlos Adrián Calvo López, an “extremely low-profile executive at Macro Bank,” who answered to Brito, had taken part “in some of the most controversial operations in Argentina in the past decades,” traveling repeatedly to Argentina from his offices in Uruguay with “suitcases full of money” that was used to capitalize Badial, a construction firm owned by Lázaro Báez.
It has been stated that while “ Báez is the right arm” of the Kirchners “in the public works,” Brito is “the ruling family's finance arm.”
Brito has been described as “holding the secrets to the Ciccone case,” otherwise known as Boudougate. According to La Nación, Brito “played a key role” in the resurrection of Ciccone Calcográfica, Argentina's most important printing firm, which in its new incarnation was renamed Compañía de Valores Sudamericana (American Securities Company), or CVS. This operation was essentially a secret profit-making operation with then Minister of the Economy Amado Boudou, now Vice President of Argentina, at its helm. Brito arranged for Macro Bank to provide funds, credits, and personnel that enabled CVS to re-establish itself, while Boudou used his power and influence to arrange for a debt moratorium and new government printing contracts for CVS.
Other participants in this operation included an officer of Macro Bank, Máximo Lanusse, who became the nominal head of CVS, and attorney Alejandro Vandenbroele, who became the nominal head of the shell company, The Old Fund, through which Boudou and Brito purchased Ciccone Calcográfica. Vandenbroele's wife, Laura Muñoz, triggered the Boudougate scandal by identifying her husband as a front man for Boudou. Brito reportedly used his firm Facimex to channel $2.4 million from a “mysterious” Uruguayan firm, Dusbel SA, to The Old Fund.Perfil reported in November 2012 that authorities looking into the complex “financial framework that was used to cover up the identity of the real owners of Ciccone” were now adding “two big boys” to their investigation: Brito and former banker Raul Moneta.
In December 2013, Brito, represented by attorney Ernesto Lopez, filed a brief in the Boudougate case and offered to collaborate on the record with Federal Judge Ariel Lijo, who was trying the case. This offer came after Brito had learned through the media that Jorge Di Lello, the prosecutor in the case, was planning to call him to testify in the case.
A June 2014 report stated that Boudou had mentioned Brito in a written statement to Judge Lijo outlining the money trail in the Ciccone case. It was noted that in addition to being the owner of Macro Bank, Brito was connected to the case through his association with the Cooperativa de Crédito Marítima del Sur Limitada, through which 30 million pesos had been channeled to CVS between July 2011 and March 2012 via The Old Fund. Boudou was dissuaded by Julio de Vido and others from calling Brito as a witness, however, because of his intimate involvement in the finances of the Kirchner family.
Judicial commentator Néstor Espósito stated in June 2014 that Lijo and Brito shared a friendship, citing a photograph in which “they are seen sharing a very relaxed social time” at a wedding. The headline of a July 2014 article in Urgente 24 stated that the “big question” in the Boudougate case was whether Lijo would call Brito to testify. “Again and again,” stated the article, “the name of Jorge Brito appears in the lawsuit.” Although Brito, stated Urgente 24, claimed not to have placed money in The Old Fund, he was implicated in more than one way. One complication, however, was that Lijo's brother Alfredo was an “intimate friend of the banker,” with whom he shared a love of horses. Urgente 24 further noted that Macro Bank had reported a suspicious transaction to the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) when Alejandro Vandenbroele transferred over 1.8 million pesos to the firm London Supply, but when Di Lello wanted Brito to testify about this matter, Lijo refused to call him as a witness.
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- Vizora Negocios
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- Oferta Exportable de la Provincia de Salta 2011-2012, "Frigorífico Bermejo Inc." (Spanish)
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- Mon, Hugo Alconada. "La sombra del banquero Brito en la ex Ciccone". La Nacion.
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- "Ciccone:¿Qué relación hay entre el juez Lijo y Jorge Brito?". Gustavo Sylvestre. Jun 10, 2014.