Police crackdown on the Herrero Brigantina “macro-scam”: a fraud price 70 million | Economy | EUROtoday

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The National Police have thwarted the dream that the founding father of the Leonese monetary conglomerate Herrero Brigantina, the 45-year-old economist Juan González, had in 2011. An operation in opposition to the center of this enterprise ring has confirmed that the funding concepts of this alleged visionary, who promised returns of as much as 50% in ten years, had been a trick, as revealed by an investigation by EL PAÍS in 2023.

The National Police reported on Tuesday the arrest of 9 folks – eight in Ponferrada (León) and one in Madrid – related to this “macro pyramid scam” that has looted the financial savings of tens of hundreds of traders in Spain. SMEs, self-employed employees and households who deposited between 5,000 and two million euros per shopper to attain not possible returns. The fraud quantities to as much as 70 million, based on the investigations. A chilly bathe for a company that was contemplating going public and was ranked 149th out of the 1,000 fastest-growing European corporations in 2021, based on the Financial Times.

Investigators have established that Herrero Brigantina used a community of 21 corporations in Spain, the United States and the United Kingdom to maneuver its funds. The agency falsified public deeds of capital will increase for its community to bolster its picture of solvency.

Under the route of the National Court, the investigations have led to the seizure of 9 properties and the freezing of 540,000 euros in financial institution accounts and a million in a SICAV (Sociedad de Inversión de Capital Variable).

Agents have additionally blocked the founder's accounts, corporations and belongings of the community outdoors Spain.

Possible seizure of belongings

After turning into conscious of the investigations, González Herrero “began to get rid of” his properties – based on the brokers – and started a plan to get his belongings out of Spain. He fled to Colombia, the place his companion is from. And, in December 2023, he was arrested at Madrid-Barajas Airport when he returned from the Latin American nation.

The brokers took away the corporate founder's passport to keep away from the danger of flight and searched his dwelling in Ponferrada, the place they found watches, luxurious purses, insurance coverage insurance policies and high-end automobiles. The investigation's idea is that a part of the savers' cash ended up within the economist's pocket.

After inspecting 130 financial institution accounts, investigators have confirmed that this conglomerate, which supplied funding options, pension plans, insurance coverage, mortgages and loans, constructed a Ponzi scheme, just like the one which the financier Bernard Madoff ran on Wall Street till 2008. New traders paid for the income of the primary to land within the supposedly profitable construction.

Along with the fee of curiosity, the traders' capital was allotted to campaigns of advertisingsustaining the industrial community of thirty places of work in Spain – the agency claimed with out proof to have branches in London, Paris, Miami, Amsterdam and Hong Kong – and paying for the posh practice for its prime administration. Yachts, high-end automobiles, five-star inns…

To achieve the belief of traders, the agency bought its monetary merchandise with the emblem of the insurance coverage corporations Axa, Plus Ultra and Generali, which it used with out permission. With this trick, Herrero Brigantina, a agency that claimed to have invoiced 56.4 million in 2022, positioned its flagship product in the marketplace, the unit linked (life insurance coverage whose premium is invested in a portfolio of funds). The trick to keep away from elevating suspicions was to signal a non-public service provision contract with the purchasers. A method that was off the radar of regulators such because the Bank of Spain and the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV). Although in idea, this funding was supervised by the Directorate General of Insurance (Ministry of Economy), the company by no means accredited the monetary resolution, based on the Police.

To unravel the rise and fall of Herrero Brigantina, we should journey to March 2023. EL PAÍS publishes an investigation that reveals the black holes of an apparently spotless agency. Complaints from savers about late funds and non-payments start to extend. Complaints for fraud encompass the company.

The Economic and Tax Crime Unit (UDEF) of the National Police is taking on the investigation into fraud. The brokers are taking statements from victims and former workers. Five months have handed since this newspaper's investigation. Then, the National Court intervenes, taking up two complaints involving 82 traders from 14 provinces, and centralising an investigation with worldwide tentacles.

The investigations are trying into why Herrero Brigantina used the endorsement and logos of the insurance coverage corporations Axa, Plus, Ultra and Generali to advertise its funding merchandise with out permission and the way it raised no less than greater than 40 million euros between 2021 and 2022 with this trick. They are additionally attempting to make clear the shady transactions to maneuver 25 million in shares, the function of the federal government supervisor or why the founder hid his earnings.

Before the collapse, earlier than the buildup of complaints, Herrero deliberate for fulfillment. He organised American-style conventions and boasted of benefiting from a silent legion of purchasers who really helpful his merchandise via phrase of mouth from household and pals. An military of salespeople – most of them from the insurance coverage, banking and medical sectors – used their contact lists to promote the merchandise. “Certainty in doubt” was the motto of the corporate that Juan González Herrero created in 2011.

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