Ecuador > Leading tax law firms

Index of tables

  1. Ecuador – Leading tax law firms
  2. Ecuador - TDH500
  3. Next generation lawyers
  4. Revenue authority details

Ecuador - TDH500

  1. 1
    • Paola Gachet - Ferrere Ecuador
    • Diego Almeida Guzmán - Almeida Guzmán & Asociados
    • Xavier Ribadeneira Espinosa - RP&C Abogados

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Bolívar Figueroa - Ferrere Ecuador
    • Mayra León - Lexvalor Abogados
    • Carmen Simone-Lasso - Pérez Bustamante & Ponce

Tax is a central pillar of the legal offering at full-service firm Almeida Guzmán & Asociados; the team is adept in both contentious and non-contentious matters, ranging from the preparation and revision of tax declarations, to tax strategy, tax-efficient planning and structuring, and both administrative and judicial contentious tax matters. Name partner and practice head Diego Almeida Guzmán is ‘the market’s standout figure’ according to peers; he is flanked by key partners Juan Sebastián Loaiza and Sebastián Saa-Tamayo, who have particular experience in corporate and commercial, and oil and gas related tax matters, respectively. The team provides ongoing day-to-day tax advice to clients such as Consorcio PetroSud, PetroRiva and Sanofi Aventis, and also undertook a study on the country’s tax regime in relation to the petroleum industry on behalf of the Secretaria de Hidrocarburos so as to improve the current oil-services contract framework. Associate Elsa María Carrillo Andrade is also noted. Past clients include Avianca, Edesa, Corporation Quiport and AMA Seguros España.

Long well-regarded for its tax capability, Bustamante & Bustamante houses a six-strong practice group led by Juan Carlos Bustamante renowned for its expertise in transactional and compliance-related tax matters, tax litigation, double-taxation and non-corporate tax matters. The practice’s client-base, reflecting the Ecuadorian economy, is skewed towards the hydrocarbons sector where the team attends its high-profile clients on matters including reference prices, income tax deductions in the industry, opposition to tax liabilities, and matters concerning the SRI’s assessment rights under article 17 of the tax code. Augstín Hurtado is the “go-to” figure for oil and gas-related tax matters but he has also diversified his practice, particularly towards the retail sector, and handles a significant number of mandates related to IRS income and VAT tax assessments. ‘Strongly recommended’ for being ‘up-to-date and on-the-money’ Misael Ruiz is a former regional legal head of Ecuador’s tax authority, the SRI. Tax specialist associates Juan Carlos Peñafiel who has ‘a brilliant litigation record’, and Maria Fernanda Sáa, who specialises in handling complex tax structures, are also key members of the team.

Ferrere Ecuador’s growing market presence, recently boosted by a Guayaquil office that adds to its Quito and Manta offerings, is also felt in the tax sector. The ‘excellent’ seven-strong team is led by Paola Gachet and offers full-service capability, including transactional tax matters, consultancy, planning and reorganizations, regulatory customs consultancy, and -in conjunction with a consulting firm- transfer pricing, as well as day-to-day advice. Clients offer fulsome praise for a practice that ‘knows Eucadorian tax matters inside-out’. Gachet, has strong expertise in transactional tax matters, reorganisations and infrastructure project-related tax matters in particular, and is also knowledgeable about international taxation and transfer pricing. The ‘very hard-working’ Javier Robalino is a ‘standout figure’; a key contact for transactional tax advice, he has particular knowledge of the oil-and-gas sector. Recent mandates include an initial due diligence for Brookfield Asset Management regarding its $1.2bn bid for the assets of Duke Energy in Ecuador, a mandate that included a review of the business’s tax plan; assisting Schlumberger subsidiaries Shaya del Ecuador and Consorcio Shushufindi with tax advise and strategy regarding operations undertaken within the framework of Ecuador’s PPP legislation (among other matters); and Chinese telecoms group ZTE on strategy and planning in relation to its provision of services, transfer pricing and the arm’s length principle. The practice also has a strong second line made up of senior associates Bolívar Figueroa and María Isabel Moreno, both of whom formerly held positions at Ecuador’s Inland Revenue Service (SRI). Figueroa specialises in tax structuring, tax planning and tax disputes, and has particular knowledge of international tax matters related to cross-border transactions and foreign investment; and Moreno who, while not a lawyer, is an accredited Tax Expert who participates in tax hearings. Other matters include asset-valuation for tax purposes, VAT refunds, tax structures, and representation in administrative claims before the tax authority. Clients include Cargolux, Ufinet, RWL Water, HazVaca, Repsol, Eurofish, La Fabril, and local Exxon Mobil subsidiary, NUCOPSA.

Pérez Bustamante & Ponce’s ‘quick’ and ‘service-oriented’ tax unit combines accountancy and finance capability in conjunction with its tax offering to permit fully comprehensive service provision. It handles tax and financial planning, tax outsourcing, administrative and judicial tax proceedings, transfer pricing, wealth planning and customs matters, as well as tax advisory and auditing, and has particular strength in M&A-related issues. The practice is co-led by Juan Gabriel Reyes (formerly at the SRI’s International Department), and CPA Maria Rosa Guerra (formerly at PwC), who heads-up the financial-tax practice. Reyes is a “go-to” figure for tax planning and structuring, tax implications and contingencies, and administrative and judicial tax claims; while Reyes, who has over 30 years’ experience, typically focuses on due diligence, tax-planning, risk mitigation, the financial aspects of tax litigation and SRI review processes. In conjunction with senior associate Carmen Simone-Lasso, the pair recently advised Andes Petroleum Ecuador on a challenge to a $5m tax determination for 2011 income tax. Other matters saw Reyes -in conjunction with senior associate Juan Francisco Carrasco- counsel OTECEL (Telefonica Movistar), also on tax determination issues. Indeed, Simone and Carrasco lead on work with notable clients (Banco Pichincha and Halliburton Latin America, respectively), and Simone has also gained particular expertise in relation to PPP matters working on the tax-incentive aspects of both DP World and ConSur R7H’s PPP-projects. The tax unit’s ‘solid second tier’ is completed by fellow senior associates Esteban Bueno, who primarily handles administrative matters and claims, and the recently promoted Nicolás Maldonado, who heads the tax practice in the firm’s Guayaquil office. Non-transactional matters include advising Sony on several sanctioning procedures brought by the Ecuadorian customs service; and Lundin Gold and Constructora Del Occidente Codelco on day-to-day tax matters related to their mining operations. Other clients include General Motors, Arca Continental, Odinsa, Adelca and Old Mutual.

Fabara & Compañía’s compact and ‘professional’ team advises on the full range of tax matters, including domestic taxation, corporate tax planning, litigation, day-to-day work and customs consultancy. It also has a notable record in obtaining tax refunds. Former head of the SRI, senior associate Diego Pino Roditti has some 20 years’ experience in the sector and leads a practice that has a growing market share. Recent matters include assisting Sociedad Hotelera Cotopaxi with an administrative procedure regarding an increase in the percentage of deductibility of administrative costs; Supermercado de Computadoras on judicial procedures to recover goods illegally seized by national customs service SENAE, and in relation to an irregular tax assessment; and Lechera Andina in an administrative claim related to the taxation of remitted currencies. Key support comes from Yael Fierro, who’s experience includes working at Quito’s tax court; she focuses on internal and sectional taxation. Ongoing work includes advising Abbott Laboratories on a tax dispute with SENAE regarding the tax classification of medications; and DirecTV, which the team is assisting oppose illegitimately levied municipal taxes; the team is also handling court cases related to VAT claims.

The well regarded Gonzalez Peñaherrera & Asociados has ‘a strongly international outlook’ and ‘always seeks the best for its clients’ interests’. The firm’s four-strong team handles corporate tax assessments, tax and legal due diligence, representation in administrative and judicial tax procedures, tax auditing, tax planning and transactional and contractual tax matters for clients in sectors ranging from mining to telecoms; it also has notable experience negotiating with tax authorities. Nevertheless, much of the team’s work stems from the firm’s core specialty: oil and gas; recent matters saw experienced tax head Paola Robalino lead advice to Pacifpetrol on tax issues regarding the client’s acquisition of 10 percent of the Gustavo Galindo Velasco oil block, and assist Sinohydro with tax issues concerning the termination of a contract with the Ecuadorian government, including the sale of assets and recovery of excess taxes paid to the tax authority. Juan Sebastian Vela is noted for domestic work, and former PwC tax consultant Christian Rosero brings additional expertise in accountancy and auditing matters. Other work included the appeal of tax assessments; judicial representation; share-sale related matters; and tax advisory within the context of arbitral proceedings brought by Petrobras against the Ecuadorian state. Clients include Avianca subsidiary Synergy Group, DirecTV, Camargo Correa Construcoes, Schlumberger subsidiary Saxon Ecuador, Cooper Gay Ecuador, Full Carga and Lamor Corporation.

Acting from offices in Quito and Guayaquil, Moore Stephens Profile Consultores has a strong profile in local tax matters, and as the Ecuadorian branch of a major international accounting and business advisory network, can also offer ancillary services and cross-border capability. Led by Jorge David Uribe, the practice handles a wide range of issues, including corporate and personal tax compliance, planning, consultancy and structuring; trust and estate-planning; administrative and judicial representation; and social security and remuneration planning, among other matters. Moreover it has particular expertise advising on cross-border transaction-related tax matters and transfer pricing. Formerly at Deloitte & Touche, Uribe focuses on banking, and fiduciary and fiscal consultancy. Key support comes from former Arthur Andersen Legal and Tax manager Mauricio Durango Pérez who focuses on tax advisory consulting. Both partners also have former in-house experience at Ecuadorian financial institutions. Also noted is senior associate Alvaro Felipe Cardenas, who focuses on international taxation. Past clients include Banco Pichincha, Nestlé Ecuador, GM Ecuador, Cervecería Nacional and Otecel.

Based in Guayaquil, well-reputed tax boutique TLA Tax & Legal Advisors handles the full range of tax matters, including planning, consultancy, international taxation, asset protection structures, transactional tax matters and tax litigation. Founding partner Gustavo Ortega Illingworth primarily acts for local and foreign businesses investing in Ecuador, and also has experience advising high-net worth individuals and on estate and trust planning. Garrigues-trained senior associate Ricardo Flores Gallardo advises on international tax, estate planning and corporate matters, and is also often called on for transactional tax matters. Mandates have included advice on the tax effects of entering into public contracts with the Ecuadorian government; the local tax effects of bond and promissory note issues; advising shareholders on the acquisition of stock-holdings while minimising negative tax effects; and consultancy on group restructuring. Recent clients include Wong Group, OHL, Bank Julius Baer and Transfuel Group.

Prestigious firm Coronel & Pérez has a small tax team primarily dedicated to assisting the firm’s corporate clientele, particularly with tax structuring and other transactional-tax matters, opposition to tax assessments and the recovery of excess tax payments, and customs matters. The well regarded Xiomara Castro heads the practice; with over 25 years’ experience she is well placed to handle the needs of both local and international clients.

Lexvalor Abogados’ 10-strong department primarily represents clients in tax disputes and litigation but also handles matters ranging from compliance reviews to international taxation and family tax (and inheritance) matters. The practice also has notable experience handling transfer-pricing matters for international clients including Grupo KFC, Metropolitan Touring, Schneider and Telvent; and an impressive position in the pharmaceutical sector where it advises Grünenthal, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Boehringer Ingelheim and Bayer. Tax department director Carlos Coronel and practice co-head Pablo Arias are both former tax managers at PwC; the pair have broad and extensive consultancy experience, particularly in relation to the oil-and-gas, financial, pharmaceutical, retail, and service industries; Coronel also works on public sector matters and handles the firm’s tax disputes caseload. Recent matters include advising Primax Comercial on an exceptional tax assessment regarding aviation fuel (by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation), with successful results in both administrative and judicial proceedings; and Empresa Pública Flota Petrolera Ecuatoriana (FLOPEC–EP) on judicial recognition of a tax refund. Indeed, much of the team’s 2016 caseload has been contentious, representing companies on tax assessments, remittance and income tax, and matters arising from the incorrect application of the Reform Law for Tax Equity. Also well regarded, young partner Mayra León’s experience includes acting as advisor to the Judicial Chamber for Tax Cases of the National Court of Justice. Other clients include Avon, Bayer, Banco Internacional and Industrias Ales.

Led by Patricio Peña, the four-strong practice at Noboa, Peña & Torres, Abogados handles all aspects of tax and corporate law for both international and domestic clients, including tax planning, refunds, asset depreciation and the appealing of tax assessments. Moreover, the team was boosted recently with the hire of associate Andres Cortez, who -prior to his arrival- served as the chief legal officer of the Ecuadorian Inland Revenue Service (SRI). Recent matters for the growing practice include assisting CEDAL DURAN and LIFE obtain their respective multimillion-dollar tax refunds; DHL Global Forwarding with challenges to national customs service (SENAE) assessments; and numerous clients -including UNIACERO and Herdoiza Crespo Construccions (HCC)- with challenges to tax determinations. Non-contentious matters include day-to-day review, preventative measures and tax planning. Other clients include Empresas Pesquera Polar, Panavial, Genteoil and Unifer.

RP&C Abogados’ participation in Deloitte’s network is just one aspect of its appeal to global players in the mining, oil-and-gas, telecommunications and consumer-products industries, among others. The firm has offices in Quito and Guayaquil, and the practice, led by the hugely experiencedi Xavier Ribadeneira, is well-versed in tax planning, preventative tax reviews, legal strategies and representation in administrative and contentious matters, consultancy, tax due diligence and day-to-day tax work. Other key figures include head of legal Manuel Cartagena, who has over 20 years’ experience; and legal and tax consulting partner Luis Ponce, who recently advised LATAM Airlines on VAT refund claims. Tax manager Christian Baquerizo is also noted, as is associate Samia Herrera.

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