Jailed ex chairman of Marsans, to be trialed for AA demise

Jailed ex chairman of Marsans, to be trialed for AA demise

Ex chief of employers' association, to appear in court in November charged with offence against Spanish Exchequer

Staff reporter

14/06/2013 - 19:35h

Gerardo Díaz Ferrán must be plotting his defense estrategy from a prison cell, where the tycoon has been sent to accused of assets concealing against the backdrop of Viajes Marsans bankruptcy. Now, the fallen-out-of-favour businessman is to face another proceedings: those referring to Aerolíneas Argentinas. Who also was former chairman of CEOE -Spain's main employers' association- during four years, is to appear before a magistrate at the Audiencia Nacional, special court, on the 28th of November charged with an offence against the country`s Exchequer, allegedly committed after purchasing Argentina's flagship airline.

Díaz Ferrán, found guilty in parallel proceedings launched to probe Viajes Marsans bankruptcy, is to face a 400 million euros debt, is to be banned from conducting business for 15 years and might face up to 4 years in custody. Alongside Díaz Ferrán is to give his account Antonio Mata, who is facing a four-year stretch in jail if found guilty. The third defendant, the late Gonzalo Pascual, passed away in June last year.

Operation

Díaz Ferrán swooped Aerolíneas Argentinas in 2001, when the SEPI, Societat Estatal de Participaciones Industriales, sold its part of the airline's equity to Interinvest, owner of Aerolíneas Argentinas, to Air Comet. The operation cost one single euro in the end, in return for Díaz Ferrán to commit himself to pump 300 million dollars -about 200 million euros- into the company, necessary sum of money to face pressing debts.

Instead of doing that, Díaz Ferrán outsourced that commitment to third-part companies, in order to re-take 40pc of the initial investment. By means of setting up a highly-devised plot, the ex chairman of Spain's employers' association was able to benefit from a bilateral agreement with Aerolíneas but would not have sent fiscal obligations stemming from it to the country's fiscal authorities. Owing to all of that, the State Prosecutor asks for Mr. Díaz Ferrán to pay 90 million euros in compensations.


Failed business operation

In any case, the management record of Iberia and the SEPI in Aerolíneas Argentinas was an outright failure. The Spanish public purse was dented to the tune of 2,100 million euros from 1991, when Iberia purchased the airline, to 2001, when was bought by Díaz Ferrán.

After that, when Díaz Ferrán was to answer for the management record, debt by the Argentinian aviation company skyrocketed. In November 2007, the Argentinian cabinet captured a larger chunk of the equity, from 5pc of the stake structure to 20pc. Finally, in July 2008, the country's government nationalized the air company that at that point was burdened by a 900-million dollars debt, about 700 million euros.