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Social Security seeks embargo of key businessman’s assets

Number two at CEOE employers’ group owes 418,000 euros

José Marcos
Arturo Fernández (r), pictured here in 2007 with disgraced businessman Gerardo Díaz Ferrán.
Arturo Fernández (r), pictured here in 2007 with disgraced businessman Gerardo Díaz Ferrán.BERNARDO PÉREZ (EL PAÍS)

The Spanish Social Security system has presented a request for an embargo of the assets of a group of companies owned by Arturo Fernández, the vice-president of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE), the country’s largest employer group.

Fernández’s Grupo Cantoblanco Colectividades owes 418,566 euros in unpaid contributions to Social Security, with debts dating back to March of last year when the group failed to make a payment of 59,553 euros. It subsequently omitted to make payments for the following months through to September. Of the total sought by Social Security, 63,419 euros is in the form of a surcharge for late payments while a further 38,051 euros is a claim for costs.

Fernández downplayed the significance of the development. “The Grupo Arturo has 15 companies, 120 establishments and 3,000 employees, and sometimes, when social security payments cannot be met because of the crisis, you ask for a stay,” Fernández said. “This is a normal practice that businessmen avail themselves of on occasion. This is what we have done and they granted us [a stay]; we will make the payments with a 20-percent surcharge.” Fernández said that the missed payments have been guaranteed.

Fernández has tried to downplay the significance of the development

The Social Security system said it filed for the “preventive embargo” on Grupo Cantoblanco Colectividades’ assets as a “cautionary measure” in the face of “rational indications” that the payment of the amount owed “might not materialize or face serious difficulties.”

Fernández has also headed the CEIM, the Madrid chapter of the CEOE, since 2007. His predecessor at the CEIM and former CEOE president, Gerardo Díaz Ferrán, was arrested last month on a series of charges that include money laundering and the concealment and misappropriation of assets. He is being held in Madrid’s Soto del Real prison.

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