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“Unlawful transactions”: Creditors file a complaint against Benko’s Signa Development

“Unlawful transactions”: Creditors file a complaint against Benko’s Signa Development
Signa founder Rene Benko
Image: Frank Rumpenhorst (dpa)

New problems are emerging for the insolvent real estate group Signa, founded by Rene Benko. A group of international, institutional investors filed a lawsuit against Signa Development with the Economic and Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (WKStA) last Friday, the “Financial Times” reported on Monday. The newspaper has a copy of the advertisement from a Viennese law firm. The company is subject to the presumption of innocence.

  • also read: Close confidante: Benko “a broken man” after Signa bankruptcy

The creditors’ accusation: Signa Development carried out “illegal transactions” before filing for insolvency on December 29th, according to the creditors. Accordingly, the creditors had “identified a significant outflow of assets amounting to more than 662 million euros from Signa Development to (indirect) shareholders and sister companies” – although there was no economic and operational justification for this, the creditors stated in a 22-page statement out of.

“Probably a deliberate lack of transparency”

According to the Financial Times, the complaint accuses the company of a “presumably intentional lack of transparency” in the run-up to bankruptcy and that no essential information was disclosed to creditors.

Erhard Grossnigg, Signa Development’s board member responsible for restructuring the company, declined to comment on creditors’ suspicions of criminal activity. The restructuring administrator, however, knew nothing about the complaint and was not involved. “We also do not know whether the authority will initiate further investigations,” the APA press office said on Monday.

Cash flows are checked

The Financial Times reported on two transactions in January. More than 300 million euros were transferred from Signa Development to two companies that are linked to Benko’s foundations. At the time, the restructuring administrator Andrea Fruhstorfer denied that payments had been made to Signa founder Rene Benko or legal entities attributable to him. However, she also pointed out that all payment flows are currently being checked, but “the process will still take time.”

The creditors, on the other hand, referred in their statement to conditions under which money could have flowed to certain other companies.

In an inquiry from the Financial Times, the WKStA referred to several criminal complaints in connection with Signa. However, it has not yet been decided whether a criminal investigation will be initiated in this case. The allegations are still being examined.

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