Tribunal “A” of the Court of Appeals on Economic Criminal Matters established the term that shall be considered to determine the statute of limitations of foreign exchange criminal proceedings related to export transactions.

On September 17, 2013, Tribunal “A” of the Court of Appeals on Economic Criminal Matters overruled the ruling issued in re. “Sedler Hnos. S.A.C.I.F.E.I.; Sedler, Luis s. Inf. Law 24,144” and established that the statute of limitations for criminal proceedings related to export transactions shall be calculated considering the applicable term to repatriate the foreign currency proceeds from exports at the moment the shipment was “officialized” (“oficialización del embarque”) to Argentina. The additional terms granted afterwards shall not be considered.

The Lower Court had ordered Sedler Hnos S.A.C.I.F.E.I. to pay a fine of AR$ 90,000 for the breach of foreign exchange regulations applicable to exports of goods. The company appealed the resolution and restated the defense of statute of limitations, which was denied by the Lower Court.

After analyzing the case, the Court of Appeals resolved that the claim was filed after expiration of the applicable statute of limitation period. Therefore, the Court overruled the ruling of the Lower Court and acquitted the company.

Argentine exporters must transfer an amount of foreign currency equal to the exchange value of the exported goods (and associated services) to Argentina, within the terms currently set forth by the Ministry of Economy and Public Finance. When Sedler Hnos. S.A.C.I.F.E.I. performed the exports under analysis the Central Bank of Argentina (the “Central Bank”) had granted an additional term to repatriate the foreign currency proceeds.

The judge of the Lower Court rejected the defense of statute of limitations, based on the fact that the statute of limitations should be taken into account considering the law in force at the moment of the infringement. That is to say, the law in force when the crime was committed, i.e. upon the expiration of the term to repatriate the export proceeds to Argentina. Following this reasoning, the judge computed the extensions granted by the Central Bank before the expiration of the original term, which deferred such term and prevented the consummation of the crime.

Therefore, the Court of Appeals stated that the term of expiration for the repatriation of the proceeds that shall be considered to calculate the statute of limitations is the term provided in the regulations in force when the shipment was “officialized” and not the term provided in the regulations that extended such term. The Court expressed that this rule affords legal certainty to the exporters about the validity of the regulations in force when their shipment was “officialized”.

This article is intended to provide readers with basic information concerning issues of general interest. It does not purport to be comprehensive or to render legal advice. For advice about particular facts and legal issues, the reader should consult legal counsel.