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Company News

UPDATE 2-Argentina probes Cargill for suspected evasion-source

* AFIP tax agency investigates agribusiness giant

* Cargill says has met all due income tax payments

* Bunge premises raided last week as part of tax probe (Adds Cargill quote, byline)

BUENOS AIRES, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Argentina’s tax agency is investigating the local unit of agribusiness giant Cargill [CARG.UL] for suspected tax evasion, a senior customs official told Reuters on Wednesday.

Fellow grains exporter Bunge BG.N had its Argentine premises raided last week as local authorities investigate accusations by the AFIP tax agency that the company evaded as much as $298 million in income tax. [ID:nN01107902]. Bunge has denied the charges.

“The AFIP is investigating Cargill,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. He said the company was suspected of receiving a disproportionately large share of export payments in Switzerland.

On Sept. 20, the AFIP agency accused four of the country’s largest grain exporters of evasion during last year, without naming them.

“Cargill considers that it is not one of the companies mentioned by the AFIP in its September 20 statement ... because it has already paid income tax for the 2009-2010 period,” Hugo Krajnc, president of Cargill Argentina, told Reuters.

“It has also paid the first installments for the 2010-2011 period,” he added.

Argentina is the world’s No. 3 soybean exporter and the top supplier of oil and meal, but the government of President Cristina Fernandez has a tense relationship with the agricultural sector.

Soy is Argentina’s No. 1 export earner and Rosario grains exchange sees this year’s agricultural exports totaling $24 billion due to a bumper soy and corn harvest.

Privately held Cargill was Argentina’s biggest exporter of soyoil and soymeal last year, followed by Bunge Argentina, Agriculture Ministry data shows. (Editing by Helen Popper, Gary Hill)

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