Rodriguez Group SA, the family holding company known for its grandiose yachts anchored from Miami to Dubai, Cannes to Monaco, is in the midst of the longest sinking in history. With a client base of billionaires, celebrities, the emirs of the Middle East, and Russian oligarchs, rumours of corruption and organized crime continue to surface.
The precise history of the shipwreck remains to be written. Legend says Gérard Rodriguez, fleeing Franco's Spain in the late 1960s, had only 300 pesetas in his pocket and the ambitious dream of becoming king of the world of yachting. And so he was, for a while.
Gérard Rodriguez founded Rodriguez Group in 1972. By 2000, the company was one of the world's leading luxury yachting companies, valued in excess of €750 million, with a billing among the top 500 French Fortunes in 'Challenges' magazine.
By 2010 there were already signs that all was not well in the Rodriguez camp. The group was subject to a rescue plan and, at the same time, its then president, Alexander Rodriguez, was in the midst of legal battles of his own, following a crackdown against the infamous banditry of Marseille.
Rodriguez Group was put into receivership in January 2014 and went into liquidation six months later on 22 July under the judiciary of Cannes.
Subsequently, the subsidiary, Gerard Rodriguez Shipyard, was sold to Claus Johansen of Chantier Naval de L’Esterel of Cannes, and Dutch-based holding company Industrial and Marine Diesel BV (IMD), for €2 million. IMD went on to file a complaint in February 2015 for "fraud, misappropriation of corporate assets and bankruptcy" before the high court of Grasse (Alpes-Maritimes). This was followed three months later by a second complaint for "illegal interest, favoritism and embezzlement of public funds."
Finally last week it was announced in a number of the French media that the national financial prosecutor (PNF) has opened up an investigation into "fraud, misappropriation of corporate assets and bankruptcy". The bank debt allegedly amounts to a collossal €260 million, with creditors including shareholders, subcontractors and banks, among them BNP Paribas, Credit Lyonnais, CIC Lyonnaise de Banque, Credit Agricole Paca, and several others in Italy and Spain.
The fallout continues and it's a story that isn't going away any time soon.
Original sources: Le Parisien; Today in France; Le Figaro; Nice Matin