Fire Destroys Argentine Banking System Archives, Killing 9

February 6, 2014

While we are sure it is a very sad coincidence, on the day when Argentina decrees limits on the FX positions banks can hold and the Argentine Central Bank’s reserves accounting is questioned publically, a massive fire – killing 9 people – has destroyed a warehouse archiving banking system documents. As The Washington Post reports, the fire at the Iron Mountain warehouse (which purportedly had multiple protections against fire, including advanced systems that can detect and quench flames without damaging important documents) took hours to control and the sprawling building appeared to be ruined.

The cause of the fire wasn’t immediately clear – though we suggest smelling [Christine] Fernandez’ hands…

We noted yesterday that there are major questions over Argentina’s reserve honesty

While first print is preliminary and subject to revision, the size of recent discrepancies have no precedent. This suggests that the government may be attempting to manage expectations by temporarily fudging the “estimate ” of reserve numbers (first print) while not compromising “actual” final reported numbers. If this is so, it is a dangerous game to play and one likely to back-fire.

During a balance of payments crisis – as Argentina is undergoing – such manipulation of official statistics (and one so critical for market sentiment) is detrimental to the needed confidence building around the transition in the FX regime.

And today the government decrees limits on FX holdings for the banks

Argentina’s central bank published resolution late yesterday on website limiting fx position for banks to 30% of assets.

Banks will have to limit fx futures contracts to 10% of assets: resolution

Banks must comply with resolution by April 30

And then this happens…

Via WaPo,

Nine first-responders were killed, seven others injured and two were missing as they battled a fire of unknown origin that destroyed an archive of bank documents in Argentina’s capital on Wednesday.

The fire at the Iron Mountain warehouse took hours to control…

The destroyed archives included documents stored for Argentina’s banking industry, said Buenos Aires security minister Guillermo Montenegro.

The cause of the fire wasn’t immediately clear.

Boston-based Iron Mountain manages, stores and protects information for more than 156,000 companies and organizations in 36 countries. Its Argentina subsidiary advertises that its facilities have multiple protections against fire, including advanced systems that can detect and quench flames without damaging important documents.

“There are cameras in the area, and these videos will be added to the judicial investigation, to clear up the motive of the fire and collapse,” Montenegro told the Diarios y Noticias agency. Zero Hedge

~~~

“The best known Iron Mountain storage facility is a high-security storage facility in a former limestone mine at Boyers, Pennsylvania, near the city of Butler in the United States. It began storing records in 1954 and was purchased by Iron Mountain in 1998. It is here that Bill Gates stores his Corbis photographic collection in a refrigerated cave 220 feet (67 m) underground.  “Iron Mountain has additional underground storage facilities in the United States and the rest of the world. It stores the wills of Princess Diana, Charles Dickens, and Charles Darwin.[20] It also stores the original recordings of Frank Sinatra and master recordings from Sony Music Entertainment.[21] Most of the company’s over 1,000 storage locations are in above-ground leased warehouse space located near customers.”…

…In July 2006, a fire completely destroyed a leased six-story company warehouse in London.[29] The paper records of 600 customers,[30] including client files stored by several prominent London law firms, were lost.[31] Also destroyed were the medical records of up to 240,000 patients of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.[30] The London Fire Brigade later concluded that the fire was caused by arson.[32] One day earlier, a smaller fire believed to have been caused by contractors making roof repairs damaged a company warehouse in Ottawa, Canada.

In 1997 a mysterious fire destroyed a warehouse full of corporate documents. Investigators interviewed dozens of witnesses but refused to offer any theories for the apparent arson. The fire, just off the New Jersey Turnpike at Exit 8, was still smoldering yesterday. It began just before 10:30 A.M. on Wednesday, two days after a smaller blaze damaged another warehouse several hundred feet away. That building had also been the scene of a fire on March 7. Both buildings are owned by Iron Mountain Inc. In August 2007, the company began retrofitting its unmarked vans and trucks with a new security and alarm system using chain of custody technology to reduce the exposure of customer data to possible loss. Among other security features, the system uses radio frequency authentication and real-time tracking capabilities to help prevent “mysterious disappearances” of tapes, or their actual removal from the vehicle, during transit.[34]

A large fire struck Iron Mountain’s document storage warehouse and headquarters in Aprilia, Italy late on Friday 4th November 2011. According to news reports, the entire building was enveloped in flames causing substantial damage to the building and, presumably, to the documents and digital content stored there. Approximately 40 employees worked in the facility but nobody has been injured…” [MC->no reason given for cause of the fire – IM sold the Italian business in April 2012]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Mountain_Incorporated

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/iron-mountain-inc/index.html

http://biz.yahoo.com/e/130301/irm10-k.html

http://biz.yahoo.com/e/130301/irm10-k.html

http://rammell-consulting.co.uk/2011/11/08/fire-at-iron-mountain-facility-in-aprilia-italy/ http://www.nytimes.com/1997/03/21/nyregion/warehouse-fire-and-mystery-smolder-in-new-jersey.html http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/5175568.stm

Devastating for the firefighters and their families. May they RIP.

All things considered the company record isn’t bad considering their outreach. Soooo when the world banking system collapses, we’ll know who to blame, eh… the Argentine disaster and the Banksters who threw themselves off buildings…more to come?

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