business

Judge fires Pescanova chairman amid insider-trading suspicions

Security supervisor to take over the reins of the stricken seafood-processing company

Manuel Fernández de Sousa.
Manuel Fernández de Sousa.EFE

A commercial court on Thursday accepted Spanish seafood processor Pescanova’s request for voluntary receivership but decided to remove the chairman of the company, Manuel Fernández de Sousa, and the rest of the management board from their positions and appointed the National Securities Commission (CNMV) to take charge.

The CNMV has sent a report to the state prosecutor’s office on possible insider trading by Fernández de Sousa, who sold half of his stake in Pescanova shortly before the company unveiled in March that its debt was much more than had been officially declared in its accounts. The company’s share price plunged after that announcement, while trading in the stock was suspended indefinitely by the CNMV on March 12.

Under normal circumstances the board of a company that seeks protection from creditors on a voluntary basis is allowed to continue in charge of its affairs. However, Judge Roberto de la Cruz Álvarez deemed that there had been extraordinary circumstances in the case of Pescanova.

These include the failure of the company to present its financial results for the second half of 2012 to the CNMV. The judge also noted that the information supplied by Pescanova to the regulator had not been audited and the fact that the company had failed to adequately indicate its debt situation. He also noted that Fernández de Sousa had initially indicated his stake in the company to be 14.42 percent when he had already sold half of his shares, reducing his interest to 7.5 percent.

The CNMV can take over the reins of Pescanova itself or appoint someone to do so.

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