The news convulsed Uruguay. The fintech dLocal, the first unicorn born in that country and that shone among its peers in the Nasdaq, is in the sights of the Argentine government for millionaire maneuvers suspected of illegal. Several official agencies, including Customs, Afip and the Central Bank, investigate whether this technology "escaped" about US $ 400 million through financial services to companies of the same group based in other countries. Official sources are considering filing a criminal complaint for alleged fraud and do not rule out warning the SEC, the Wall Street regulator.
The Customs accuses dLocal, which offers means of international and cross-border payments, of "taking advantage of the exchange gap in Argentina" and of "taking dollars abroad with operations that are not reflected in accounting" and also of "not liquidating the foreign currency from its exports of services." For this reason, the AFIP instructed the Argentine subsidiary (a "small office" located in the charming neighborhood of Palermo) to detail "requests for remittances abroad." The company, so far did not respond, "although there is still time," they clarified.
The investigation began at the end of last year, according to a qualified official source, following the notorious increase in the company's activity through the foreign exchange market. Strictly speaking, dLocal went from billing US $ 9 million in 2019 to US $ 400 million, and last year, "payments in dollars abroad were 60% higher than those of 2021". In the Government they suspect that this growth is based on trout invoices and that these days "we are trying to verify if the exported services are real or fictitious."
These currency transfers, argue incredulous in the Customs, "come from services provided" to firms of the same group and the main beneficiaries "are dLocal Corp. LLP, dLocal Limited and Dlocal LLP", based "mainly to Malta – where the company is based – and Great Britain". In this way, the agency concluded that "local activity is plagued by intercompany operations" and that now they want to thoroughly investigate the issue in the country and also in the United States.
The company tried to refute the accusations, released this Friday by Infobae. First through a statement, in which they affirm that they work normally. Later, in statements to Uruguayan media, one of the founders of the fintech, Sergio Fogel, denied everything. He said that "there is no investigation or subpoena that we have had to any request for extraordinary information or anything like that from the government of Argentina," although he acknowledged that "it is possible that there is some investigation that they are doing internally."
Fogel explained that fintech dollars come and go, "not so much for Argentine businesses, but for service than payout loans, which is to pay freelancers," he said, alluding to professionals who sell services abroad and charge in hard currency. "Probably, the money will flow to Argentina through us," he added. The businessman also mentioned that they charge for dollarized services, such as Netflix. In those cases, "we take the money out."
In the Government they are suspicious of everything, especially the invoices presented by dLocal under the concept of "collection services", which allows them to access the dollars of the Central reserves, which they buy with pesos. Even more. A source in the investigation slipped that they are not even sure if the office listed as a legal address (Thames 1617) actually exists.
The startup was born in 2016 and since then, according to Fogel, they operate in Argentina. In 2021, finally, the company went public on the New York Stock Exchange and came to be valued at more than US $ 9,000 million. Today it is around US $ 3,400 million. In November 2021, its shares plunged by more than half after a report by Muddy Waters, which warned about the company's "creative accounting" and its ballooning operating deficits.