4 January 2017 – Expansión
The Tax Agency (Aeat), one of the largest creditors of the real estate group created around the holiday resort Marina D’Or, has decided to take action. The Ministry of Finance has approved the precautionary seizure of assets from several companies owned by the founder and owner of the Castellón complex, Jesús Ger (pictured above), amounting to €49 million.
The measure is based on the fact that the Tax Agency considers that the Castellón group performed an “asset emptying” operation of its largest company in 2010, to stop the possible collection of debt that it held by carving out its activity into several companies.
The debt originally corresponded to the company Comercializadora Mediterránea de Viviendas (Comervi), the property developer and construction company that suspended its payments in 2014 and which appears on the tax authority’s list of largest debtors. Months before the insolvency, it changed what had been its historical name, Marina D’Or-Loger, under which it had promoted and constructed the popular holiday resort.
In 2010, Ger restructured the group’s parent company and divided its activity into four companies to prevent the real estate crisis from dragging down its hotels and the tourist business at the complex next to the beach in Oropesa del Mar (Castellón).
That operation is what has caused the Central Taxpayers Office to claim the amount owed by Comervia (€57.48 million) from two other companies owned by Ger: Gestión Cartera Castellón – which was the owner of the shares in Marina D’Or-Loger until the segregation and which assumed ownership of the hotels and other businesses – and Golf Playas Castellón – owner of the macro-urban Marina D’Or Golf project, which Wanda expressed an interest in -.
In June 2016, the Administration approved an agreement whereby Gestión Cartera and Golf Playas assumed “joint and several liability” for the debt, taking responsibility for €47.9 million and €1 million, respectively.
A few months earlier, in March, the Ministry of Finance had already notified both entities that it had seized their shares in the companies “in a provisional and precautionary way” and “100% of the full ownership and usufruct of the real estate assets, homes, apartments, parking spaces and land” registered in Castellón, Benidorm and Oropesa.
The two companies and the businessman himself then filed special appeals with the Superior Court of Justice (TSJ) of Madrid. In the three appeals, the plaintiffs contended that their fundamental rights had been violated as they were not guaranteed any right of defence or access to a hearing. The three cases were dismissed by the court.
According to the list of events included in the rulings, Aeat considers that as a result of the carve-outs and company operations of the former Marina D’Or-Loger, €327 million of net assets were removed from the company. That meant that it was left with negative equity of €140 million at the end of 2010, which was one of the factors that led to its subsequent bankruptcy. Moreover, the most recent appraisal reports from the Ministry of Finance value the properties that Comervi used to guarantee its tax debts to delay and split the payment at just €19.47 million, which is “well below the total tax debt of almost €58 million”. The properties were initially assigned a value of €96 million.
Sources at Marina D’Or indicated yesterday that they had achieved an agreement with the Tax Authorities “whereby their precautionary seizures will be rendered ineffective” and that they have not been carried out “and so they would not have any affect on the activity” of its companies.
Original story: Expansión (by A.C.A)
Translation: Carmel Drake