The Curious Case of Hernan Arbizu, Part 3

Just a quick note to point out that on Independence Day the NYT finally picked up the Hernan Arbizu story. But not from the Argentine media, and not from me:

Tax Analysts, a trade publication, said Thursday that the Argentine news media had followed the Arbizu story closely, with one Buenos Aires newspaper recently publishing at least 120 names from his client list.

That’s Thursday, July 3; I actually linked to the list in question a full week earlier.

The NYT did have one piece of information which was news to me, however: that the criminal case against Arbizu was filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan way back on May 13.

That surprised me; I thought the criminal case against Arbizu had been filed after JP Morgan’s complaint, which was only filed on June 13. Indeed, I had been given to understand that the reason for any tardiness in JP Morgan filing its complaint was that they were so busy working with the US authorities on the criminal complaint, and might not have wanted to tip their hand.

Obviously, that’s not what happened. And now the timeline is much clearer: JP Morgan discovers the fraudulent wire transfer on May 9, when Arbizu is in Argentina, fires Arbizu, and informs the US authorities. The US authorities file their criminal complaint very quickly, on May 13, and Arbizu sensibly elects to remain in Argentina rather than come back to the US and face arrest. JP Morgan then does very little for the next month, until its offices in Buenos Aires are raided by the Argentine authorities – at which point it files a civil complaint against Arbizu asking for him to return the information he’s already handed over to the Argentine press and police.

What’s more, the June 13 civil complaint, although long, was also a bit hurried – it said that Arbizu had left JP Morgan to work for Morgan Stanley, for instance, and it had to be replaced by an amended complaint on June 16. So it doesn’t seem as though JP Morgan was waiting until it had everything absolutely nailed down before it filed.

So the NYT article if anything raises more questions than it answers; we’ll just have to wait for more information to slowly trickle out in the months ahead.

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