The government presented this Thursday the criminal complaint against the Edesur authorities and reiterated it will evaluate the revocation of the concession to the electricity distribution company for the power outages which for two weeks have affected more than 36,000 homes in the city and province of Buenos Aires.
The head of the National Electricity Regulatory Agency (ENRE), Walter Martello, confirmed the start of the trial on Twitter, where he explained that the lawsuit is for “fraud for violation of agreed rights”. “abandonment of people” and “obstruction of public services”.
Martello is so advanced in the order given to him on Wednesday by the Secretary of Energy, Flavia Royón, to criminally sue the entire board of directors of Edesur for “embezzlement and fraud to the detriment of the public administration” and “the abandonment of people”.
Energy has also requested that ENRE submit the status report to Congress so that it “recommend whether it is appropriate to end” privatization of the electricity service in the hands of Edesur. The Italian group Enel, which owns the company, announced in November its withdrawal from Argentina and other countries. It has already sold two power plants and is looking for a buyer for Edesur.
In the midst of protests in various AMBA offices, the company assured that the criminal complaint filed by the government “has not been notified” and that “right now the priority is to restore service to customers who are without electricity and We are working to make it happen.”
According to the ENRE website, at 14:15 in the Edesur concession area there were 36,171 homes without electricity supply, at a time when, according to the National Meteorological Service, the temperature in the region was 31.4°C and the wind chill rose to 34.9°.
“It’s not a matter of state yes or state no”
This Thursday, the official spokeswoman, Gabriela Cerruti, affirmed that “the ENRE report is advancing which reveals all those points that can be causes for the removal of the concession of the Edesur company”. And she added that she is doing it “carefully” so as not to harm the interests of the state.
“After the report, in the next 90 days, the State will evaluate the revocation of the concession to the Edesur company”, he specified during the press conferences he held on Thursday at the Casa Rosada.
In this regard, the spokeswoman indicated that “the way privatizations were carried out in the 1990s implies that there may be harm to the state in making a decision on this issuea”, given that the concession was granted “for 100 years”.
Cerruti remarked that the current situation in which thousands of users find themselves without service is one of the “consequences of the privatizations carried out by liberalism”. “It’s not a question of ‘State yes or State no’, but that the user gets the service he should get,” he said.
Strictly speaking, a possible concession change could trigger a million dollar trial in ICSID, the World Bank court where Argentina is already facing claims for partial nationalization of YPF. If we go down this path, Enel could ask for compensation.
The spokeswoman raised the “significant difference” compared to other distribution service dealers and compared to Edesur, with “more than 75,000 users in the last few weeks, who have experienced extended outages”, with Edenorwhich had “outages in no more than 6,000 users”.
In parallel, the ombudsman, Maria Rosa Muinosfiled a class action lawsuit on behalf of the residents of the Municipality against the Edesur companies and others for the lack of decent treatment and lack of information due to the interruption of the electricity service in the middle of a heat wave.
The lawsuit brought by the Ombudsman requires companies to truthfully report the characteristics of the electrical fault, the time and day of service restoration, the possibility of new cuts, the details of the work performed.
Moreover, fines ranging from $73,000 to $308,000 were sought to compensate the victims. The Consumer Protection Law, in the event of violation of decent treatment, authorizes the judge to apply a fine, which is established between one-half and two thousand one hundred basic baskets published by INDEC.
Charles Arterburn is a seasoned business journalist for News Rebeat, where he provides comprehensive coverage of the latest trends and developments in the world of finance and economics.