Ex-employers’ chief facing 15 years in jail for role in collapse of Marsans travel firm

Gerardo Díaz Ferrán is accused of gutting his business group to conceal assets from creditors

Gerardo Díaz Ferrán gives testimony in another case against him involving Aerolíneas Argentinas.
Gerardo Díaz Ferrán gives testimony in another case against him involving Aerolíneas Argentinas.EFE

The High Court Attorney’s Office is calling for a 15-year prison term for the former head of Spain’s largest employers association, over the collapse of his defunct Grupo Marsans travel conglomerate.

Gerardo Díaz Ferrán, 71, the ex-president of the CEOE, faces charges of concealing assets, bankruptcy fraud and money laundering. The disgraced businessman has been in custody at Madrid’s Soto del Real prison since his arrest in December 2012; investigators believe that he concealed his assets to prevent 10,000 creditors from collecting the estimated €400 million he owed them.

The man who was in charge of liquidating the business group, Ángel de Cabo, could spend up to eight years behind bars for his role in deliberately gutting Marsans.

Besides the prison terms, Díaz Ferrán is facing fines of €5.12 million.

“Such a deplorable situation
was becoming a threat to their
very high living standards”

Last December, a Madrid court sentenced him to two years and two months in jail for tax fraud. By September, prosecutors had traced some €88 million in assets and properties – including luxury apartments in New York – to his name.

The Attorney’s Office believes that Díaz Ferrán, his deceased business partner Gonzalo Pascual and De Cabo hatched a plan in which the first two would transfer all their corporate and personal assets to the latter, and that De Cabo would later pay each of them €8 million in monthly instalments of €100,000, so that the two of them “would continue to live with the same or similar opulence, despite being formally insolvent.”

The various methods used by De Cabo allowed him to take nearly €30 million out of Grupo Marsans’ business units, including the airline Air Comet and the travel agency Viajes Marsans.

Starting in 2009, Grupo Marsans began to rack up debt, and creditors demanded that the business partners back it up with their personal assets. The lawsuits began to pile up. The business group’s liabilities were upwards of €310 million.

According to the attorney’s statement, “such a deplorable situation […] was becoming a threat to the very high living standards” enjoyed by Díaz Ferrán and Pascual, and so “they decided to save most of their wealth from the inevitable seizure by systematically emptying out their personal and business assets, which was clearly detrimental to their creditors.”

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