Cemex Colombia Loses Appeal on Price-Fixing; Former Execs Charged in Maceo Plant Scandal
Cemex Colombia – a subsidiary of Mexican multinational cement producer Cemex Inc. and Cemex LatAm Holdings – announced June 22 that it failed in its final appeal over a cement price-fixing charge brought by Colombia’s Superintendencia de Industria y Comercio (SIC).
The company will pay a COP$923 million (US$316,476) fine as a result of the final ruling by Colombia’s Council of State (Consejo de Estado), which also upheld fines against alleged co-conspirators including Medellin-based Argos (which has denied the charges) and Bogota-based Holcim Colombia (a division of Swiss-based LafargeHolcim).
According to Cemex Colombia’s June 22 filing with Colombia’s Superintendencia Financiera (Superfinanciera), the price-fixing was alleged to have occurred between May and December of 2005. However, the latest Council of State ruling doesn’t cover separate SIC allegations of price-fixing between 2010 and 2012 — charges which Cemex continues to dispute in separate proceedings.
Maceo, Antioquia Scandal Continues
On another front, Colombia’s Attorney General (Fiscal General) announced June 12 that it has brought criminal charges against Édgar Ramírez Martínez (former Cemex Colombia vice president of planning) and Camilo González Téllez (former Cemex Colombia vice president legal affairs) over the Maceo, Antioquia, cement-plant land-acquisition scandal (see Medellin Herald 02/09/2018).
Ramirez and Gonzalez both faces charges of illegal enrichment as well as “unfair administration” over allegedly illegal acquisition of lands around the mostly complete, US$420 million Maceo cement plant, which hasn’t started-up and remains in legal limbo pending operating-permit approvals.
The Attorney General also brought illegal-enrichment and money-laundering charges against Eugenio Correa Díaz, the legal representative of “C.I. Calizas SA,” which is alleged to have illegally sold land to Cemex for the Maceo plant.
The lands originally held by C.I. Calizas had been subject to another legal proceeding (“extinction de dominio”) over non-payment of Colombian taxes on allegedly phony exports of auto parts by former C.I. Calizas owner Jose Aldemar Moncada, who was assassinated two years ago.
According to the Attorney General, Ramirez, González and Correa “advanced negotiations to acquire several assets” of C.I. Calizas — including lands that supposedly should have been in control of Colombia’s tax authorities because of the earlier tax-evasion charges against Moncada.
“According to the investigation, the executives of Cemex and Eugenio Correa were aware of this situation and despite this they insisted on the negotiation, under which the cement company would have disbursed more than COP$40 billion [US$13.7 million], money that went into the personal accounts of Correa Díaz, and from which apparently one part was used to pay obligations of José Aldemar Moncada, while the rest was converted into cash without having entered a single peso into C.I. Calizas S.A.,” the Attorney General charges.
Cemex LatAm Holdings earlier brought details of this situation to the attention of the Attorney General, as the alleged scheme “caused serious damage to property and reputation, both to the company and its shareholders,” according to the Attorney General.