Spain's Gowex files for bankruptcy, ex-CEO could face 10 years in jail

MADRID Tue Jul 15, 2014 4:29am EDT

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MADRID (Reuters) - (The July 14 story has been corrected to show Garcia Martin did not have his passport seized and was not banned from leaving Spain)

Spanish wireless networks provider Gowex filed for bankruptcy on Monday, a week after an accounting fraud at the firm was revealed, while the High Court said its founder could face a jail sentence of more than 10 years.

Law firm Velez & Urbina said Gowex had decided to file for bankruptcy because it was in a state of "imminent insolvency" and faced a "financial standstill" after a high number of contracts were ended and new projects were canceled.

Former Chief Executive and Chairman Jenaro Garcia Martin said on July 6 that he had misrepresented the financial accounts for at least the last four years. Last week he was charged with false accounting, distortion of economic and financial information, and insider trading.

Following his testimony before the High Court on Monday, Garcia Martin was given 15 days to pay a 600,000-euro ($818,400) bail or face jail.

High Court examining judge Santiago Pedraz said the ruling was justified because Garcia Martin might attempt to flee as he faced a jail sentence of more than 10 years and had at least 3 million euros in a Luxembourg-based bank account.

Pedraz did not rule out taking further measures against Garcia Martin but decided not to seize his passport, ban him from leaving Spain or require him to report to a court every week, as requested by the public prosecutor.

He said Garcia Martin was collaborating with judicial authorities.

Gowex started insolvency proceedings last week and had a maximum of four months to reach a deal with creditors or enter into administration - a formal bankruptcy process in which a judge takes over the company and appoints who should run it, often leading to it being wound up or radically restructured.

A judge now has to rule on whether Gowex was correct to file for bankruptcy.

The financial and management situation at the company remains unclear.

Gowex said earlier this month that it had hired PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to carry out a forensic audit of its accounts. However, PwC said on Monday that it could not carry out the audit because it could not find authorized representatives of Gowex and get access to the information it needed.

(Reporting by Julien Toyer; Editing by Sarah White, Pravin Char and Dale Hudson)

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