A Mexican court rejected a plea by the local arm of Dutch bancassurers ING to free up $300 million frozen in its bank accounts, its legal opponent Grupo Fertinal said yesterday. ING’s assets and bank accounts in Mexico were frozen at the end of August, and arrest warrants issued for ten of its employees in a bitter dispute between the insurance company and mining company Grupo Fertinal.
Fertinal filed a $300 million claim against ING Seguros Comercial America after one of its mining installations was damaged in a 2001 hurricane. Fertinal has alleged that employees of ING’s Mexican operation stole money the insurance company had received from its reinsurers for purposes of covering damages under Fertinal’s policy. ING’s chief executive in Latin America Yves Brouillette in early September called the criminal accusations blackmail. Since a court froze the $300 million in ING Comercial America’s accounts in August, the company has made financial arrangements to provide it with cash.
ING Comercial America has about $5 billion in assets under management. Mexico’s federal government owns 47 percent of Fertinal through bank bailout agency IPAB, and the rest is owned by businessman Fabio Covarruvias.