July 17, 2014 / 1:50 PM / 4 years ago

Spanish court issues search warrant for missing Gowex auditor

MADRID, July 17 (Reuters) - Spain’s High Court said on Thursday the judge investigating the collapse of wireless networks provider Gowex had issued a search and detain warrant for the company’s auditor, who had gone missing.

Antonio Diaz Villanueva, from small firm M&A Auditores, is due to testify in court on Friday as part of an investigation into an alleged accounting fraud at the firm, but the court said it had not been able to find him.

The fall of Gowex, which filed for bankruptcy on Monday, was precipitated nearly two weeks ago by former boss Jenaro Garcia Martin’s admission that he misrepresented its accounts for at least the past four years.

A small firm listed on the country’s alternative stock exchange, Gowex had previously been hailed as a shining example of some Spanish companies’ ability to beat the odds during a deep and prolonged economic downturn.

Garcia Martin has been charged with false accounting, distortion of economic and financial information and insider trading, and has to come up with 600,000 euros to pay bail, otherwise he will be jailed.

Villanueva, who was responsible for signing off the firm’s accounts, was among nine people beside Garcia Martin to be charged in connection with the collapse.

The High Court said on Thursday that financial director Francisco Manuel Martinez had 15 days to pay bail of 50,000 euros.

It said Garcia Martin’s wife Florencia Mate, the former head of investor relations at Gowex, was out of the country and would be called to testify on July 28. She has also been charged and had been due to testify in court on Thursday.

Police raided Gowex’s headquarters this week, as ordered by investigating magistrate Santiago Pedraz, who is leading the probe. He has asked for Garcia Martin’s bank account with Banco Popular in Luxembourg to be frozen, the High Court said. (Reporting by Sarah White and Emma Pinedo; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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