How an Obscure Fertilizer Deal Enriched a Mexican Billionaire

By Santiago Prez4 days ago

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MEXICO CITYIt was the kind of sophisticated inside deal, complete with threats from a politically connected emissary, that only the boldest of Mexicos oligarchs might pull off.

In 2007, aMexican legislator approached local executives of Dutch insurer ING Groep NV and delivered an ultimatum: Pay tens of millions of dollars on a claim by a struggling fertilizer company or face a media and legal war beyond all previous dimensions, according to an internal ING memo reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Soon after, a Mexican television network began running stories about people allegedly duped by the Dutch insurer. And the fertilizer company, Grupo Fertinal, filed criminal complaints against a dozen of the insurers local executives, prompting them to flee Mexico. Within months, ING paid Fertinal $120 million on the claim, sold its Mexican operations and left the country.

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