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Access to the Pescanova headquarters in Pontevedra, Galicia (Photo: stockfile)

PESCANOVA: The National Court rectifies and reduces the qualification of the sentence imposed on A. Paz-Andrade

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Wednesday, October 21, 2020, 07:00 (GMT + 9)

The National Court rectifies and reduces the qualification of the sentence imposed on A. Paz-Andrade and confirms the sentence of joint liability to the BDO auditor, Santiago Sañé in the PESCANOVA case
As the days go by, some aspects that were not public knowledge become clearer. Hence the importance of the content of the sentence and the recent rectification of the National Court lowering the qualification of the sentence imposed on Alfonso Paz-Andrade, who has been exonerated of all civil responsibility and practically of the rest of the accusations that weighed on the former -CEO of the Pescanova group.
Many will remember that back in 2006, his relationships with Fernández de Sousa were not the best, as they did not share the same business criteria, which led to his termination of his duties at the beginning of 2007, even renouncing the offer to continue as an advisor to the President .
From that moment and in view of the public discrepancies, Paz-Andrade limited his relationship with Pescanova to his capacity as director, representing 5% of the shareholding package of which he was the owner. Separating completely from the management of the company. Thus, the main responsible civil solidarity, Manuel Fernández de Sousa-Faro and Santiago Sañe Figueras external auditor of BDO.
At that time the most important media in Galicia and Spain echoed the notorious discrepancies between the two businessmen.
The disappearance of Caixa Galicia marked the beginning of the end. With his ambition and his authoritarianism, Fernández de Sousa seized the omnimous power in the company by making millionaire investments developed by Pescanova in fish farms, mainly in Portugal and Chile and Nicaragua.
Fernández de Sousa incorporated his son into a 'new model' far from the one that Pescanova traditionally had. But all the investments and improvisations necessary for the pharaonic aquaculture projects could not come from the company or shareholders in a genuine way but from a financing mechanism produced fraudulently through shell companies, false invoices and financing of inventories in cold rooms that, in some cases, they were already sold or were non-existent.
Keys to the condemnation of the external auditor in the Pescanova case
Beatriz Carballo Spain, Criminal Lawyer who writes for elderecho.com, comments that "The attribution in the Pescanova case judgment to the external auditor of a necessary cooperation in the crimes of falsification of annual accounts and investor fraud is based on the fact that the Court reaches to the firm conviction that, with the accounting documentation that has been shown that BDO had at its disposal, it should have warned that the positive result that the company's financial situation showed did not correspond to reality. It should have disagreed with the accounting of the company, highlighting all the inconsistencies, misalignments of figures and inaccuracies that reflected their work papers. "
Beatriz Carballo adds that "By not having done so, the sentence implicitly assumes that he acted with direct fraud with respect to the falsification of the accounts and, at least, with eventual fraud with respect to the knowledge of the criminal circuit that ends with economic damage to investors.
In other words, the sentence cannot confirm (since there is no proof of this) that BDO knew from beginning to end the fraudulent plan devised by the President of Pescanova with the collusion of other members of the company. "
National Court requires Santiago Sañe and BDO to also compensate the affected banks
The ruling requires the auditor of Pescanova BDO, Mapfre and former directors to compensate investors and creditors of the Galician company with more than 160 million Euros. The potential economic blow is of a magnitude far greater than what BDO has been gaining in recent years. The audit subsidiary, BDO Auditores, reaped a consolidated profit of 1.21 million in 2018 and 853,000 euros in 2017.
There are still many economic aspects and compensations to be defined that will be made public as the appeals and agreements take shape.
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