Monday, March 6, 2017

Arellanos' assets freeze may chill Yucatan, Laguna seasons

As if the Mexican League hasn't had enough problems to wade through since the conclusion of last season, with continuing concerns over a very uncertain future for the new Durango Generales and a 21-player exodus from Puebla to Monclova, courtesy of Gerardo Benavides (who owns both teams), the Liga is now facing a potential crisis that threatens the ability of two of its 16 teams to operate this year.

According to Proceso magazine writer Beatriz Pereyra, whose column on Sergio Romo and racism earlier this winter caused reactions across Mexican baseball, brothers Erick and Juan Jose Arellano (pictured) have had their assets frozen by the National Banking and Securities Commission, Mexico's counterpart to the USA's Securities Exchange Commission.  The CNBV acted at the behest of the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit's Financial Intelligence Unit.  The Arellano brothers own both the Yucatan Leones in Merida and the Union Laguna Vaqueros in Torreon, which are among the assets frozen.

Pereyra reports that this is not the first time such actions have been taken with the Arellanos, citing similar account lockdowns in 2015 and 2016.  The FIU has intervened to review whether money-laundering practices were taking place within the brothers' Mazatlan-based Grupo ArHe, although one related document states that "there is no evidence that the resources are of illicit origin," according to the Proceso story.  Grupo ArHe's holdings include several gas stations, Alamo car rental agencies, construction firms and a sports uniform manfacturing business, among others.

The Arellano's assets remained frozen as of Monday and Pereyra says the brothers face liquidity problems as a result, as sponsors are unable to send funds to either team, already causing preseason difficulties for the Leones and recently-acquired Vaqueros while the LMB regular season is scheduled to begin on March 31 and just one more crisis for Liga president Plinio Escalante, ironically a Yucatan native, to deal with.

And they still haven't named a manager in Durango, although the Generales' Facebook page (they don't have a website) shows a 2017 season schedule with an April 18 opener against Veracruz.  Who knew?