27 July 2016 – Expansión
The former owners, the Basque García-Egocheaga family, had accused López Esteras of swindling them during his purchase of the prestigious medical-hotel complex.
The Provincial Court of Vizcaya has acquitted the businessman José Antonio López Esteras, founder of the Jale Group, of crimes involving fraud, continued fraud and concealment of assets, of which he was accused following the sale of Incosol, formerly one of the most prestigious medical-hotel complexes in Europe, located in Marbella.
In addition, his son José Antonio López Esteras Camacho and son-in-law, Alfred Fischbac, have also gone free. They are the former directors of the Cádiz-based holding company, which has now filed for liquidation but which was one of the largest companies in Andalucía in its hey-day, with real estate, construction and hotel businesses.
The case dates back to 2007, when Jale acquired Incosol from the Basque García-Egocheaga family – which also used to own the Hotel Los Monteros – for €50 million through a complex financial and corporate operation. Less than fourteen months later, they filed a lawsuit against the three executives mentioned above, asking for 24 years in prison and compensation amounting to €3.6 million on the basis that they had made payment guarantees and commitments assumed by the Andalucían group somehow disappear.
Those obligations were guaranteed through the constitution of a pledge over 100% of the shares in the company Hotel Monasterio San Miguel, S.A., whose main asset was the hotel of the same name – located in El Puerto de San María – one of the most reputable in Andalucía and the flagship of its hotel division.
Shortly thereafter, Jale filed for voluntary creditor bankruptcy, but before doing so, it reached an agreement with BBVA to transfer ownership of the property to the bank for €24 million, in a sale & leaseback operation.
The plaintiffs consider that, with this manoeuvre, the executives made “the guarantees that secured the fulfilment of its obligations disappear in a fraudulent way”.
Now, however, the Provincial Court of Vizcaya has acquitted them on the basis that “the evidence provided is not sufficient to conclude that the intention behind establishing the pledge over the shares of Hotel Monasterio was to deceive García Egocheaga, or hide from them the fact that the guarantee was going to disappear”.
In addition, the court said that the former owners of Incosol were offered other guarantees in real estate assets worth more than €30 million.
Original story: Expansión (by Simón Onrubia)
Translation: Carmel Drake