Police unearth €88 million in property owned by jailed business chief

Former employers association leader Díaz-Ferrán declared himself bankrupt to avoid paying creditors

Disgraced former CEOE chief Gerardo Díaz-Ferrán.
Disgraced former CEOE chief Gerardo Díaz-Ferrán.REUTERS

Spanish police have identified property worth an estimated 87.9 million euros owned by disgraced businessman Gerardo Díaz-Ferrán, who had declared himself bankrupt in order to avoid paying creditors, radio station SER reported Thursday.

The former head of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE), the country's largest employer group, is currently in the Soto del Real jail in Madrid province where he is facing charges of fraud and money-laundering.

A Madrid commercial court has already found Díaz-Ferrán guilty of deliberately driving the Viajes Marsans travel business he jointly owned with Gonzalo Pascual into the ground by stripping it of its assets, leaving it with debts of more than 400 million euros. The court barred him from managing the assets of third parties, or representing them for 15 years and made him personally liable to repay his creditors. The collapse of the travel group left 4,700 employees on the street with their wages unpaid, along with some 10,000 creditors owed.

A judge is looking for funds that Díaz-Ferrán is thought to have spirited away overseas

The police traced the ownership of 22 properties to Díaz-Ferrán, including two luxury apartments in the Plaza Hotel opposite Central Park in New York, villas and apartments in Mallorca and a castle in the region of Castilla La Mancha, which has officially been declared as being an asset of historic and artistic value. Proceeds from the sale of properties owned by the businessman will go to pay his creditors.

The Madrid court found Díaz Ferrán had entered talks with Marsans' creditors while he and his partner continued to strip the assets of an affiliate worth 189 million euros, driving the group further into bankruptcy. The judge rejected Díaz Ferrán's attempt to try to blame the problems of Marsans on his deceased partner.

A police raid on Díaz-Ferrán's home in Madrid last year unearthed 150,000 euros in cash along with one kilo of gold.

Díaz-Ferrán and Pascual sold Marsans for a nominal amount to businessman Ángel de Cabo, who specializes in liquidating companies, just before it went into receivership. It is believed that De Cabo, who has also been jailed, was paid to strip the company of its remaining assets on behalf of Díaz-Ferrán and Pascual.

The judge at the forefront of the investigation into alleged money laundering and fraud by Díaz-Ferrán had previously blocked 4.9 million euros from an account the former CEOE chief held in Switzerland and is looking for other funds that he may have sent abroad from the proceeds of stripping the assets of Marsans. The magistrate has asked the authorities in a number of countries — including the United States, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Ireland, Belgium, Mexico, Peru and Argentina — to probe if Díaz-Ferrán has concealed funds there.

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