Former Pescanova chairman sues over dismissal

Manuel Fernández de Sousa, the former Pescanova chairman now accused with distorting the company's financial information, among other charges, is suing the embattled Spanish fishing group for what he considers an unfair dismissal.

Pescanova has been in both criminal and civil court since March, when the company refused to disclose information about its debts to regulators, prompting an investigation that officials say has uncovered massive amounts of financial malfeasance. The investigation is still ongoing, and Spanish courts have still not sorted out any criminal charges or civil judgments yet.

According to reports in Spanish media, Fernández de Sousa presented his lawsuit for USD 897,835 (EUR 663,470) on 18 November. During the hearing, the former chairman's defense lawyer claimed de Sousa had both a business relationship and a contract of employment at Pescanova.

But lawyers for Pescanova and the insolvency administrator said the relationship between Fernández de Sousa and Pescanova was merely a commercial one, meaning his departure was not officially a dismissal.

Even if Fernández de Sousa were right, the lawyers added, his demand should be rejected because it was submitted after the period available for demand compensation.

For the moment, they will have to wait for the criminal court to finish with the ex-chairman first. Fernández de Sousa was already in the National Court last month, when a judge took a statement accusing him of faking financial information, misuse of relevant information, and forgery of a commercial document.

According to media reports, Fernández de Sousa said he refused to falsify any invoices to help the company get credit, and said the banks should take that into consideration.

On the other hand, this week the media also published that the National Court dismissed a fraud charge against Fernando Fernández de Sousa, brother of the former chairman; however, the judge did not dismiss charges of falsifying social information, according to Europa Press.

In his statement, the chairman's brother denied any involvement in the company´s accounting falsification. Furthermore, he explained that he trusted in the work of both the external and internal auditor of the company.


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