Critics have responded with anger to Banco Ciudad’s recent decision to accept Iron Mountain’s bid to store files. A fire at the US corporation’s warehouse in 2014 led to the deaths of ten volunteer firefighters and civil defence members.
Experts in data storing, destruction, and backup, the US corporation stands accused of foul play in the Barracas fire, which has since been labelled arson by the authorities. Investigators believe the fire was used to destroy evidence of tax evasion and money-laundering operations by Iron Mountain’s clients, including HSBC and BNP Paribas.
The Barracas fire was not the first time the corporation’s facilities have burnt down. Fires have occurred on five previous occasions at deposits in North America and Europe, at least two of which are suspected to have been caused by arson.
With its decision, Banco Ciudad will entrust Iron Mountain with its record keeping and data needs for at least three years (with an option for a fourth), even though the corporation was closed throughout all of 2016 while under investigation for the 2014 fire.
It is a contract that was described as “incredible and hasty” by Miguel Arce Haggai, attorney for the families of the victims. Haggai also recalled the fact that company officials “have an on-going action against them for the crime of havoc due to the various deaths [in the fire]”.
“With the open proceedings against the company for the death of ten firefighters and Civil Defence members in the Barracas tragedy, I believe that the decision was rushed and is not right. I would add that this issue should be reviewed by the Legislature, and minimally they [Banco Ciudad] should have given a justification for why they hired this company and not another…”
Critics claim that Iron Mountain should be prevented from submitting contract proposals and bids in accordance to Law 265 of Buenos Aires Security and Hygiene. This law grants the power of inspection, control, and sanctioning for violations of health and safety to The Directorate General of Labour Protection of the City.
Edgardo Castro, inspector for the Directorate General, has in fact made several serious complaints against the business and storage practices of Iron Mountain since the 2014 fire. Recalling Article 19 (paragraph E) of the law, Castro emphasised that an employer “shall be disqualified for one year from accessing public bidding, and suspended from the registry of suppliers or state insurers” if they have committed serious, or very serious safety violations.
The Official Bulletin announcement of 20th October indicates that Iron Mountain was awarded the bid for not only “being the lowest offer received”, but also for “adjusting to all that was requested by the bank and its particular conditions”.
Asked for public comment on the controversy, Banco Ciudad responded that the agreement was “a public tender in which the two largest companies in the market competed… The operation adhered to the general regulations of bank purchases, which are similar to the regulations used by the government. There were no legal breaches to object to the company’s [Iron Mountain] participation.”