Pollo Campero Owners Nailed in Fraud Case

Pollo Campero Owners Nailed in Fraud Case

Long running shareholder dispute within Guatemala's largest business group takes a dramatic step forward with Bermuda court ruling


MIAMI, Sept. 10 /PRNewswire/ — Last week a judge in Bermuda issued a major decision which found a reinsurance company owned by Guatemala’s immensely powerful Bosch-Gutierrez business group (Multi-Inversiones) liable for fraud committed against a minority shareholder, confirming long-standing allegations made by the plaintiff in diverse related cases in international courts.

“After nearly a decade of fighting, we were finally given the very first opportunity to present the merits and share the videotaped evidence of money laundering,” said Robert Amsterdam, one of the lawyers representing the family of Juan Arturo Gutierrez, owner of the Lisa holding company. “As we expected, the ruling confirms that my client has been the victim of ongoing fraud. We consider this finding to be relevant to more than this successful outcome. This analysis helps to peel back veils of impunity, tax evasion, money laundering, and systemic abuse of political power to expose the true face of these caudillos who have caused so much damage to the people of Guatemala.”

The case, LISA S.A. vs. LEAMINGTON REINSURANCE COMPANY LTD. and AVICOLA VILLALOBOS, heard in the Supreme Court of Bermuda (1999: No.108/2001 No. 79), is related to several other U.S.-based lawsuits of high-profile international attention pursued by the plaintiff against companies and interests belonging to Juan Luis Bosch and Dionisio Gutierrez Mayorga, among others, who are the principal owners of the popular fast food restaurant chain Pollo Campero. The case has received attention from the highest levels of government and business, involving everything from a journalist shooting and media boycott to a claim filed before the UN’s Anti-Impunity Commission (CICIG).

The Bermudan Court ruled in favor of Lisa and against Leamington, finding that Lisa had been defrauded of nearly $2.0 million, plus prejudgment interest and postjudgment interest at the legal rate of 7%. The Court, however, did not find liability on behalf of Avicola Villalobos, S.A., not because fraud had not been committed, but rather because evidence pointed to an unnamed party, Multi-Inversiones, S.A. of the Bosch-Gutierrez Group, as being the controlling mind directing the fraudulent practices of Leamington.

The ruling in this case confirms that high-ranking executives representing Bosch and Gutierrez “clearly admitted in a meeting which was secretly recorded that a substantial portion of the income generated by the Avicola Group, in particular cash generated from the sale of live chickens, chicken manure and oranges was kept off the books and used to fund distributions to shareholders,” and “admitted to institionalised practices designed to deceive his local tax authorities on the part of the primary insureds.” The Court also found that the plaintiff had no prior knowledge of the fraud, as claimed by the defense.

“Many points outlined in this ruling mean so much more than just the award,” said Juan Rodriguez, a lawyer representing the plaintiff. “For nearly ten years the defense has claimed that they never maintained more than one set of accounting books, only to change their story entirely last February before this trial in order to claim that the plaintiff was informed of the fraud scheme. With this lie openly exposed, we finally have a view of the potential political manipulation carried out by these individuals in Guatemala to escape our complaints and investigation by the state judicial authorities — which has long been an underlying problem of rule of law for the country.”

More information on this historic case can be found at http://www.casogutierrez.com.

Pollo Campero Owners Nailed in Fraud Case