I would like to thank you for the lengthy letter in response to my article, as having received five sheets written by you show that my comments have touched you deeply.
I understand that I must clarify several points raised in it to try to make it clear who is the one that incurs inaccuracies and falsehoods as you indicate.
First of all, I must respectfully ask you not to underestimate me, nor to assume that I do not know the laws and files which I have been monitoring weekly. I do not live in Argentina, so it is obvious that I will not be the one who can request and ask for reports, but I handle better information than you suppose. I also believe that you are underestimating many people from the Argentine fishing industry that knows you and that has extensive knowledge of the various irregularities that are happening under your management.
I consider it important to highlight that the specific message of the letter is to try to disqualify me as a specialist in particular fisheries issues and, on the other hand, you shift responsibility background theme to other officials. So once again, you assume no concrete role in this story, which is also mentioned by FIS referring to your "absence" when the Federal Fisheries Council (CFP) had to deal with issues affecting several Argentine companies for millions in dollars.
I also want to clarify that in May you declared that the legal area must be the one defining who the enforcement authority was: whether the CFP or Mr. Delgado, who you refer to as responsible for the issue. Therefore, if it was not clear for you who was going to solve this within your own organization, from then on you can imagine how unclear it would be for people experiencing this from outside like me.
I am some years ahead of you, not only in age but also in experience in the fisheries sector, since I started some time before you. Therefore, I not only know many people and companies in the Argentine sector, but also the background several of them have.
As it is obvious that you do not know about certain definite events related to the issue, I believe it is necessary to comment to you that I had a meeting with Alicia Castro at the Argentine Embassy in London soon after she took office, and then I had several meetings at the Chancellery in Buenos Aires to discuss The Falklands issues and to be in touch with the people involved. At the time, there was a presidential decision to appoint certain people in strategic positions within a centralized policy related to The Falklands issues. I do not want to extend the topic but beyond that, I had a meeting at the time with the second person in importance in the former SIDE (secret service), and as a result of all that I wrote the article that I entitled “Falkland Islands (Malvinas): Argentina strengthens management. What could be improved?” (22 January, 2014), which directly affected your management.
I do not know if you had the opportunity to read my article and the response I later received from Mr. John Barton, but it caught my attention you never expressed your opinion on this important issue that directly affects the area for which you are responsible, and that is directly related to the fishing activity in the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas in the South Atlantic.
You're a lawyer and you can probably describe the interpretation of laws and historical facts since the French Revolution to date better than I do. But I have never questioned the laws or procedures, only some officials who withhold information, or manipulate it, with interests that are outside of what is supposed to be the responsibility as a public official. As you well know, Nissui Group has committed a crime that has been confirmed in a file. They were raided pending a sanction on 5 August 2015. You also know that Pesantar still belonged to Nissui Group when these events occurred. And you are aware that there was an "arrangement" between Newsan Group and Nissui Group for the former to purchase a company that had been punished with suspension for fishing. You also know perfectly well that from the moment Newsan took over Pesantar, not only were all sanctions magically vanished, but it was finally "rewarded" with an additional Patagonian toothfish quota. This was granted in a questionable meeting of CFP, of which you are the president but for reasons that you tried to justify as "casual", you were not present although you were well informed about the topics to be addressed.
Can you really suppose that a sensible person will believe in the version you are trying to show? Don't you think it seems a bit more realistic to assume that the people who have some years in this business interpret that this has been an orchestrated maneuver in coordination with the Newsan Group because of your "special relation" with the government of Tierra del Fuego and some national and/or provincial authorities? That this group has been allowed to have a business of more than USD 25 million for operating a vessel that was not authorized to fish is the result of the implementation of certain "political" decisions and the nod of certain officials like you.
This is a reality that no matter the laws or paperwork you present now, it is a concrete fact, which is unthinkable in a normal country. All the procedures that you describe have only allowed Pesantar to work for a year and also receive a special prize, which is likely to serve it to pay the fine when finally the sanction is implemented. In other words, thanks to this gift bestowed under your management, natural resources of all Argentine citizens will be those paying for the party. That is to say, a scam to the Federal Government.
Because of all this I have mentioned quickly and shortly, I publicly question you as an officer and as a person. I'm not interested in administrative excuses but in facts. You do not face the issues personally and instead, as it is typical of some lawyers, you let others sign files like that of Nissui or minutes of meetings such as the one of the CFP. Therefore, I understand that it is not only I that was misinformed but you yourself confirm to me that the only thing that interests you is not to take direct responsibilities and take some personal benefits from this.
Take the example of Mr. Juan Benegas, since from the very beginning his career and his photos attracted my attention. If you pay attention, in all of them he always put the Argentine flag in front, and in yours I've always seen it in the background. Besides, Mr. Benegas has not only lost his job and his source of income, but has never been congratulated on or mentioned by you, or by any other Argentine official, as a public example for having filed a complaint with irrefutable evidence on a topic that is so important for Argentine international politics. While you are hiding behind laws or bureaucratic arguments to put yourself to one side, Mr Benegas continues to lead his struggle for the firm to obtain a sanction without even worrying about getting a new job or ensuring a source of income. What a difference, Mr. Bustamente!
With respect to you, I think that in Argentina everybody knows where you come from and where you will go. You have never been an "independent" person and it is noteworthy that in other countries, where codes of ethics are respected, an advocate of a business group would have never accepted your position. When I spoke of your resignation, I just meant the conflict of interest between the responsibility that you have to fulfill with your official position and "lobby" for few.
At present I do not doubt that at the end of your mandate you will return to your home as you explain in your letter, as those politicians who belong to your inner circle have lost all chance in the recent elections, so it would be almost impossible for you to continue in the civil service. Time will tell if those who once moved to CEPA to hold public office will return to work for this business group from Mar del Plata.
Perhaps Newsan Group has a better proposal.
Chronological summary of events so far:
• On 22 December, 2014 Mr. Juan Benegas formalizes the complaint at the Argentine Chancellery and the Undersecretariat of Fisheries of the Nation
• On 23 December, 2014 the governor of Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica and South Atlantic Islands, Maria Fabiana Rios, suspends the fishing permits to Pesantar, owner of the ship Echizen due to Benegas’ allegations.
• On 29 December, 2014 J. Benegas provides evidence to the ambassador Daniel Filmus, Secretary of Affairs Related to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas in the South Atlantic.
• On 1 January, 2015 J. Benegas delivers a note to the Ambassador of Japan in Argentina asking for his help. The response he obtained was: "Thank you for your information."
• On 4 January, 2015 J. Benegas sent an e-mail to the managers of NISSUI Head Office (Tokyo), in which he informed them on all the above mentioned actions, including his letter to the Japanese ambassador. On that occasion J. Benegas asked the managers of NISSUI (Tokyo): "What Japanese people from NISSUI would betray the sovereignty of Japan?"
• On 5 January, 2015 the first news article is published in the newspaper La Nacion.
• On 5 January 2015 J. Benegas is dismissed without a cause, after 26 years of dedication to NISSUI Group.
• On 9 January, 2015 NISSUI sells PESANTAR SA to Newsan Group, knowing it was doing so with suspended fishing licenses due to Juan Benegas’ complaint since 23 December, 2015.
• On 16 January, 2015 the suspension of provincial fishing permits of PESANTAR SA is lifted, previously suspended by the provincial government of TDF (Tierra del Fuego) on 23 December, 2014.
• On 22 January, 2015 the first concrete statement is made by Undersecretary of Fisheries of the Nation, Miguel Bustamante: "It is doubly proven that NISSUI Group fished in Malvinas (The Falklands)," Revista Puerto (magazine).
• On 10 March, 2015 the sanction notification is released: http://www.marypescanoticiaspatagonicas.com/2015/03/notifican-a-pesantar-para-que-presente-su-descargo-por-la-denuncia-por-presunta-violacion-a-la-ley-federal-de-pesca/#more-63
• On 29 April, 2015, more than four months after the complaint, J. Benegas’ witnessing statement was taken by Carlos Rivelle, director general of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development of Tierra del Fuego, at this point the Undersecretariat of Fisheries of the Nation had everything checked. (?)
• Newsan was involved with the consequences of the announced sanction to Nissui by Dr. Bustamante, further investigation on the company San Arawa and its equity relation with Nissui also starts.
• On 5 August, 2015 Nissui (Japan) gave a presentation through its legal representative in Argentina and the charges are settled.
• On 1 October, 2015 Undersecretary of Fisheries Dr. Miguel Bustamante reports and states to the media that, once the investigation comes to an end and without loopholes in the file, the assessment of the penalty is in the legal department of the Undersecretary of Fisheries.
• On 21 October, 2015 J. Benegas claims the penalty announced by Bustamante in the report no. 20 (20th report: Complaint on illegal fishing in the Falkland Islands by the fishing company Pesantar-Nissui) aimed at National and Provincial Authorities, Senators, Representatives, Lawmakers from Tierra del Fuego, Entrepreneurs, the Media.
• On 26 October, 2015 J. Benegas requests in his usual reports, this time no. 21, that the future quota allocations for the valuable Patagonian toothfish remain unchanged from the Federal Fisheries Council, considering that one of the four companies benefitting from them is Newsan and the other one is San Arawa, both with possible consequences due to their involvement with Nissui.
• On 29 October, 2015 J. Benegas, in the report no. 22, proves that the CFP disregarded all the statements of the president of this organization, Dr. Bustamante, and with the file held by Dr. Pederiva for her decision on the complaint against Nissui, in Act 41, granted a huge Patagonian toothfish quota to Newsan and San Arawa.
The magazine Revista Puerto dated 1 November, 2015 highlights the great contradiction generated in Act no. 41 of the CFP.
• On 2 November, 2015 Dr. Pederiva ends the decision for Dr. Gabriel Delgado to rule.
• On 4 November, 2015 J. Benegas expresses Dr. Delgado that he is looking forward to Nissui’s sanction since it was raided on 5 August, 2015. Regardless of the other consequences that should be taken by Emdepes from Chile, Newsan from Argentina and San Arawa from Argentina. Dr. Delgado expressed to J. Benegas: “The penalty should not be stained.”
• On 17 November, 2015 Dr. Bustamante personally informed J. Benegas that Foreign Ministry will be ordered to intimidate Emdepes from Chile for it to conduct their defense, as Dr. Pederiva understands that it is the only thing missing to implement the penalties.
To be continued...