STA, 13 May 2021 - The specialised prosecution office has asked a court to formally open an investigation against former German owners and management of Adria Airways for financial misdeeds that allegedly led to the Slovenian flag carrier ending up in receivership in October 2019, according to a report by news portal Necenzurirano.
The portal names the suspects as former Adria Airways CEO Arno Schuster, his successor Holger Kowarsch, Klaus Platzer, who acted as financial advisor to the company from March 2016 to December 2017, and Eggo Laukamp, who from 2014 to 2018 served as director of purchasing at 4K Invest, the turnaround fund that bought Adria from the state in 2016.
The report says the prosecution has found evidence supporting the allegation that the quartet had siphoned EUR 3.5 million away from the carrier through consulting contracts. Once the court-led phase of the investigation is completed the prosecution will decide whether to file an indictment.
The portal reports that the law enforcement authorities have encountered major difficulties in trying to establish where the money from Adria has disappeared. It says the Germans had started covering their tracks when it had become clear the company's bankruptcy was inevitable.
They closed down companies in a intricate network leading from the UK to Germany and on to Luxembourg and Malta, a scheme that the portal says was designed not only to serve tax optimisation and to hide the real owners but also to make it harder to follow the money flows.
The alleged wrongdoing will have hurt some 2,900 creditors, who have reported more than EUR 150 million in claims in the receivership process. The official received admitted roughly EUR 88 million in claims, while the bankruptcy estate is much smaller, comprising EUR 2.6 million in cash and an estimated EUR 4.3 million in assets not yet converted into cash, according to the portal.
Since Adria went bankrupt, its operating licences have been auctioned off for EUR 45,000 to Air Adriatic, a firm incorporated by Slovenian produce importer Izt Rastoder, and the Adria Airways brand has been sold to Munif Otman Tarmum of the United Arab Emirates for EUR 33,400.
The carrier's flight school has been sold to an institute owned by Peter Jambrek, a jurist and chairman of the management board of New University.
An invitation to submit binding bids for Adria's office building and the appertaining land was published in April with the asking price set at EUR 4.1 million. The deadline for bids expires on 30 June.