Saturday, July 24

Sandra Ortega, the richest woman in Spain, complains against the former manager of her fortune for misappropriation

Sandra Ortega, the eldest daughter of Amancio Ortega and owner of 5% of Inditex, has filed two complaints for misappropriation, falsification of documents and unfair administration against José Leyte, the person who directed his fortune for more than 20 years. As has learned and sources from Rosp Corunna have confirmed, the family office or asset manager of Ortega, both complaints have been admitted for processing. The company declined to comment further out of “respect” for judicial work.

José Leyte was a man of the house. Graduated in Law and graduated in Economics from ICADE, in the 90s he worked as head of Deutsche Bank for Galicia and Asturias and headed the private banking division of Caixa Galicia. In 2000, Rosalía Mera – Amancio Ortega’s first wife and founder of Inditex – created Rosp Corunna to channel her investments. A year later, he appointed Leyte as the maximum responsible.

Rosalía Mera passed away in 2013, at the age of 69, after suffering a stroke. Rosp Corunna was then in the hands of his daughter, who was already an administrator of the company. Leyte remained in this and other positions: he was CEO of all the group’s subsidiaries; director in Breixo, Ortega’s free investment company; in Soandres, its sicav; in Ferrado, the real estate company of the holding company; in the pharmaceutical company PharmaMar, of which Rosp owns 5%; and in Room Mate, the indebted and hotel deficit of Kike Sarasola, of which Rosp owns 30%. The initial investment in Room Mate was made by Mera because she liked tourism and it increased over the years, under Leyte.

Leyte’s relationship with the family ended in December last year, when Sandra Ortega dismissed him from all charges, alleging “loss of trust.” In his place, he appointed José Fresnedo, another man in the house who had been working as an investment director for years. Coinciding with the departure of Leyte, Ortega wanted to restructure his investments in brick and tourism, as he anticipated Five days. This process includes the sale of 30% of Room Mate, whose financial situation is even more battered after the COVID. Sarasola has requested a rescue of 52 million from SEPI and survives thanks to a loan from the son-in-law of Juan Roig, founder of Mercadona, while a buyer appears. Sources from the hotel company tell that “soon” a new partner will enter.

When José Leyte was fired, Rosp Corunna commissioned a report forensic to the KPMG consultancy. The forensic These are expensive reports, much more in-depth than a regular audit, in which an external company investigates possible fraudulent behavior with advanced techniques, reviewing both the company’s accounting and computer equipment. Of forensic in Rosp came the evidence on the alleged illegal activities that Leyte would have carried out and against which Ortega is now complaining. The exact content of these has not transpired.

In conversation with this newspaper, Leyte claims to feel “very sad.” “I was the first employee. I have done everything that has been done in that office and I have worked side by side. Although the complaint is nothing, it is a bad drink,” he says. The former manager says that his relationship with Sandra Ortega was never as close as the one he had with his mother, despite the fact that he remained in the position for seven more years. He claims to be “calm” and not having done “anything wrong or irregular.” “I am a victim,” he adds.

Leyte demands his settlement

Sandra Ortega is the fourth person and the first richest woman in Spain, behind Amancio Ortega, her father, and Juan Roig and Rafael del Pino. Its assets amount to 5,700 million euros. It so happens that the complaints for misappropriation, unfair administration and document falsification are not the only litigation with Leyte. The old manager, who has set up a new company between Lisbon and London called Mondo Consulting, sued her because he understood that they did not pay the settlement that was due to him.

Leyte claims a normal employee severance, commensurate with his twenty-year seniority with the company, while Rosp alleges that his contract was for senior management. In this case, the compensation is much less: by law, 7 days of salary with a limit of six monthly payments.

According to the latest Rosp Corunna accounts, the salary of senior management amounted to 860,000 euros per year in 2019. Leyte considers that the complaints are “a strategy” to avoid paying him compensation. “They are trying to pressure me and get away with it. Fortunately there are people who help me,” he says. The newspaper The confidential reported a few days ago that the trial for compensation is already seen for sentencing. There is no date for the criminal trial yet.

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