Guatemala’s Avicola Villalobos Gets Favorable Ruling From Bermuda Court in Reinsurance Company...

Guatemala’s Avicola Villalobos Gets Favorable Ruling From Bermuda Court in Reinsurance Company Matter

- Bermuda litigation has absolutely no relevance to Pollo Campero - Court rejects allegations of fraud and money laundering against Avicola Villalobos - Plaintiff misrepresents Judge's statements - Captive reinsurance company to compensate poultry company shareholders for amount equivalent to previous offers before litigation commenced



Editor’s Note: If you are following this on-going legal and intra-family matter between Guatemalan-based Avicola Villalobos and Lisa, S.A., a corporation owned by Guatemalan nationals living in Canada, or have received information from Lisa, S.A. or its public relations consultant, please know James Meyer, outside general counsel for Avicola Villalobos, is available to discuss the matter and correct any inaccurate information you may have received as a misinformation campaign continues to be waged against various individuals and companies related to Avicola Villalobos.

After nearly ten years and four previous attempts by the plaintiff (Lisa, S.A.) to amend its claims, a Commercial Court (Civil Jurisdiction) in Bermuda issued its ruling against Lisa, S.A. in favor of Avicola Villalobos holding that Avicola Villalobos is not liable to Lisa, S.A. for any of the claims in the Bermuda trial.

Avicola Villalobos is part of the poultry division of Corporacion Multi-Inversiones (CMI), which is owned by the Guatemalan-based Gutierrez Mayorga and Bosch Gutierrez families. Part of that poultry division is still partially owned by a third branch of the Gutierrez family living in Canada, under the corporate name, Lisa, S.A., which is principally owned by Arturo Gutierrez and his son, Juan Guillermo Gutierrez, respectively, the uncle and cousin of CMI’s co-presidents Juan Luis Bosch and Dionisio Gutierrez. The Guatemalan Gutierrez’s are affiliated with Pollo Campero, a well-known Guatemalan chicken restaurant chain that is expanding in the United States. Despite the plaintiff’s various and misleading attempts, the Bermuda litigation, about which this related, however, had absolutely no relevance to Pollo Campero.

In addition, the Bermuda court rejected the allegations of fraud and money laundering against Avicola Villalobos acknowledging the prior payment of taxes in Guatemala in 1999. Further, the judge specifically declined to “make any findings that specific tax offences were committed by AVSA and/or Avicola operating companies.”

The court did order Leamington Reinsurance Company, Ltd., a Bermudian captive reinsurance company, to compensate Lisa, S.A. with regard to transportation insurance policies issued by the reinsurance company for an amount less than $2 million — equivalent to previous offers to Lisa, S.A. before litigation commenced.

The matter, which was before Judge Ian Kawaley, was focused on determining the validity of reinsurance policies as tax deductible corporate expenses despite the plaintiff’s relentless efforts to turn the matter into a tax evasion and money laundering trial to secure proceeds far greater than warranted.

Among Judge Kawaley’s conclusions were:

– Lisa’s case based on the vicarious liability of AVSA for the acts of its officers and/or its corporate agents is dismissed. It follows that since AVSA was not itself an insured and there is no sufficient evidence tying AVSA to the Leamington programme, claims against AVSA and Leamington in relation to the Leamington programme must be dismissed as against AVSA.

– Lisa has failed to prove the highest level of its pleaded case, namely that the predominant purpose of the alleged scheme was to launder the proceeds of the off-books live chicken sales in Guatemala and to deprive Lisa of its share of all this allegedly unreported income.

– Under withering cross-examination by Mr. Riihiluoma, Juan Guillermo [Gutierrez] was simply not credible when he testified that at the recorded Toronto meeting, he did not admit having seen minutes related to a Villamorey sale of shares and made reference to this transaction by way of fishing for information.

The compensation awarded to Lisa, S.A. was what was initially offered in 1998 and prior to the start of the trial. Rather than seek an amenable and fair arrangement years ago, Lisa sought to try this case in a foreign court for both public relations and political reasons.

Lisa, S.A. has based its entire harassment campaign on a surreptitiously taped meeting where the alleged accounting fraud was supposedly “admitted”; however, Lisa’s principal witness, Juan Guillermo Gutierrez, confessed during these proceedings there was nothing on these tapes that could be construed as an admission of fraudulent activity against Lisa, S.A. on the part of Avicola Villalobos or anyone else.

On June 25, in the same Bermuda court, Juan Guillermo Gutierrez acknowledged that Avicola Villalobos submitted documentation into evidence in the Bermudian proceedings that shows all tax-related claims against Avicola Villalobos in Guatemala had been dismissed by the Guatemalan authorities as meritless. Specifically, the criminal complaints filed with the Public Ministry of Guatemala in August 2001 by Juan Arturo Gutierrez and Juan Guillermo Gutierrez against Avicola Villalobos, among other Defendants, were dismissed because there was no evidence of tax fraud, concealment of assets, or any currency exchange violations. Evidence submitted during the Bermuda proceedings also confirmed that Avicola Villalobos has paid all taxes due in Guatemala.

Unfortunately, there continues to be a campaign to provide misleading and inaccurate information to members of the media. Avicola Villalobos believes this misinformation campaign is nothing more than another ploy by a disgruntled shareholder to extract an inflated purchase price for a minority interest in the Guatemalan poultry companies. Lisa, S.A.’s scheme has been to employ a strategy of relentless litigation (more than 150 lawsuits have been filed in various courts around the world) and defamation in an effort to obtain an inflated price for its shares in Avicola Villalobos.

Courts in the U.S. and other jurisdictions consistently have dismissed actions brought by Lisa, S.A. against the Guatemalan branches of the Gutierrez family. In addition to this victory in Bermuda and numerous state and federal court victories in Florida and Guatemala, the courts in the State of New York, Panama and the British Virgin Islands also dismissed cases filed by Lisa.

Guatemala’s Avicola Villalobos Gets Favorable Ruling From Bermuda Court in Reinsurance Company Matter