Flexicamper bankruptcy: Siegfried Hofreiter in custody

Flexicamper bankruptcy: Siegfried Hofreiter in custody

Siegfried Hofreiter survived the bankruptcy of Europe’s largest agricultural company without any damage. But after a mobile home company went bankrupt and millions of customers disappeared, he was arrested. The accusation: delaying insolvency and fraud

Seven years ago, Siegfried Hofreiter led Europe’s largest listed agricultural group KTG Agrar into bankruptcy, creating one of the largest insolvencies in medium-sized bonds and depriving around 12,000 investors of almost 350 million euros. He wasn’t particularly interested in the investigation; instead, he and his partner built a new small empire of agricultural companies – and collected millions in down payments for mobile homes with a company called Flexicamper. At the beginning of June 2023, the Hamburg public prosecutor’s office stopped its investigation on suspicion of delaying insolvency and bankruptcy in the KTG Agrar case in exchange for a high monetary payment – just a few days after the mobile home company Flexicamper filed for bankruptcy.

Multiple bankrupt Hofreiter arrested

It almost seemed as if the multiple bankrupt who made it from his own farm to the stock market couldn’t be tackled. But now his story is taking a new turn: According to information from “Capital,” Hofreiter was arrested last week in connection with the Flexicamper bankruptcy. His partner Jessica K, who, according to the commercial register, was formally the owner and ran the business of the mobile home company based in Rosenheim and other branches, was also arrested.

Upon request, the Munich II public prosecutor’s office, which has been investigating the case of the defrauded motorhome buyers since the summer, confirmed the arrest of the Flexicamper managing director and another suspect. According to “Capital” information, this is Hofreiter. A spokeswoman for the public prosecutor’s office said they were both being investigated “in 34 cases on suspicion of delaying insolvency and commercial fraud, among other things.” The exact number of fraud offenses is still the subject of ongoing investigations.

The investigators suspect that Hofreiter worked at Flexicamper as a so-called de facto managing director – and therefore has to answer for himself, even though he had no official function in the company. Defense attorneys for Hofreiter and Jessica K. initially did not want to comment on the public prosecutor’s allegations.

The arrests came early Tuesday morning last week as part of a larger operation. According to the public prosecutor’s office, there were searches at several properties in seven federal states by Bavarian criminal police, supported by local colleagues. After the preliminary arrest, they were The accused were brought before the magistrate and taken to correctional facilities, the spokeswoman said. As “Capital” learned, Hofreiter was caught in a hotel in Lower Saxony where he was renting under his son’s name. In addition, as part of the campaign, Hofreiter’s companions were also searched: including two financial specialists who have been working for him for a long time, as well as in his family environment. According to its own information, the public prosecutor’s office is investigating a total of eight suspects in the Flexicamper case.

From bankrupt to stock market star

“Capital” has repeatedly intensively researched and reported on the investor scandal at KTG Agrar with its sometimes bizarre complications over the past few years. Hofreiter had already been legally convicted in 2002 for delaying the bankruptcy of a previous company. He was then celebrated by analysts and investors for KTG Agrar’s growth story, and he drove up in a tractor at the IPO in Frankfurt in 2007.

Over the years, the massive Bavarian from near Regensburg, who was just called “Siggi” by most, bought up an empire of 46,000 hectares of agricultural land in East Germany, Lithuania and Romania and had himself flown to his lands in the company’s own helicopter. Hofreiter also bought into several food producers. His strategy of an “integrated agricultural group” that controls value creation from field to plate was well received – including by many small investors. With several bonds, called “organic securities,” he collected almost 350 million euros, thereby fueling the medium-sized bond segment.

400 million euros in debt is too much

But when the company went bankrupt in the summer of 2016 because it could no longer pay bond interest, insolvency administrator Stefan Denkhaus, creditors and investigators not only encountered partially withered fields, empty coffers and over-indebtedness of 400 million euros. They also came across questionable bookings in the balance sheets and strange deals in the network between the company and the family, in which Hofreiter, his long-time partner and major KTG shareholder and even – at least on paper – their son, who was underage at the time, played a role. The creditors, including many small investors, who held the bonds were left with most of the damage. The insolvency administrator raised a little money through the sales of land and other assets – and from the manager liability insurance of former board members and supervisory boards.

Soon after the bankruptcy, “Capital” reported that Hofreiter was striving to get back into business – regardless of the investigations that the Hamburg public prosecutor’s office had initiated against him after the KTG collapse. Also there: his new partner Jessica K., a former KTG employee, who appeared as managing director of the new companies, while Hofreiter pulled the strings in the background. They resided on Usedom and near Anklam in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Later, Hofreiter’s son also got involved in the family business, for example with a freight forwarding company that temporarily expanded significantly and was looking for truck drivers (“welcome money”: 3,000 euros). Three years ago, the clan got into the mobile home business – apparently to benefit from the strong caravanning boom that was driven by the Corona crisis and its lockdowns.

At the beginning of June 2023, Hofreiter was able to put the criminal investigation into the KTG agricultural scandal behind him. After years of investigations, the Hamburg public prosecutor’s office closed the proceedings against him on suspicion of delaying insolvency and bankruptcy – in exchange for a “high amount of money”, as a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office announced at the request of “Capital”. The appointment was made with the consent of the responsible court. Since no charges have been filed yet, the amount of the fine cannot be disclosed for data protection reasons.

Insolvency administrator: “Wirecard on a small scale”

But shortly after the Hamburg investigation into the KTG Agrar case was closed, Hofreiter’s business made new headlines this summer – after Flexicamper filed for insolvency in mid-May. At the motorhome sales company, which was founded in 2020 by Hofreiter’s partner Jessica K., it was discovered that deposits of several tens of thousands of euros had been accepted from dozens of buyers – but that no motorhomes were subsequently delivered, and often not even ordered.

For a while, Hofreiter’s companions report that they were able to hold off waiting customers. Just a few weeks ago, Flexicamper received a loan from a local bank. Recently, however, Hofreiter was no longer able to show up at trade fairs because otherwise the matter would have been exposed. And something else is said in these circles: At official appointments and with customers, Hofreiter always called and introduced himself using the last name of his partner and Flexicamper boss – on paper he didn’t appear as the managing director.

After the bankruptcy in May, more than 150 affected customers reported and the damage is said to exceed ten million euros. Insolvency administrator Klaus Martin Lutz, who took over the case, found clear words publicly: he had never encountered conditions like those at Flexicamper in 30 years, and the company’s business documents were “a swamp” and a “catastrophe”. For him, the whole case is “Wirecard in miniature”.

Source: Stern

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