Petroplus faces French investigation

A French prosecutor has opened an investigation into whether Swiss refiner Petroplus illegally withdrew funds from its French unit before filing for insolvency.

This content was published on January 26, 2012 - 17:01 and agencies

The "fraudulent insolvency" probe, opened by the Nanterre public prosecutor, on Wednesday saw its financial police unit search the subsidiary's headquarters in Paris as well as Deutsche Bank, where the firm holds its bank accounts.

Petroplus said it refuted all allegations of fraudulent bankruptcy in France.

The prosecutor's office, which had access to book-keeping documents of the French subsidiary when it was put under judicial protection, is looking closely at the transfer of €100 million euros (SFr120 million), a spokeswoman at the prosecuting office said on Thursday.

"The prosecutor's office had access to documents which need to be checked, and more specifically those related to questionable financial transfers," she added. But the prosecutor may struggle to prove the criminal charge of "bankruptcy by embezzlement" because Petroplus is insolvent in France and in the rest of Europe.  

Zug-based Petroplus filed for insolvency on Tuesday, putting over 2,000 jobs across Europe at risk, after it defaulted on $1.75 billion (SFr1.61 billion) of debt. The group owns five refineries including one in Cressier, canton Neuchâtel, which shut down this week.          


Europe's largest independent refiner by capacity has been teetering since its lenders restricted credit late last year, a victim of thin refining margins and high debt.  

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Sort by

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Almost finished... We need to confirm your email address. To complete the subscription process, please click the link in the email we just sent you.

Discover our weekly must-reads for free!

Sign up to get our top stories straight into your mailbox.

The SBC Privacy Policy provides additional information on how your data is processed.