The penalty was negotiated between the Grosbusch brothers’ lawyer and the public prosecutor before being validated by the magistrates. This avoids, following the recognition of the criminal facts, the painful agony of a public trial and perhaps limits the damage on a penal level. Delano’s sister publication Paperjam was able to consult the 69-page file.
The judicial machine was set in motion on 24 July 2019, with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) transmitting a report to the public prosecutor’s office, which implicated the Grosbusch company. A judicial investigation was opened on 30 July 2019.
The FIU started investigating because it was alerted by PwC, which has been auditing the accounts of the fruit and vegetable specialist since 2005. A former Grosbusch employee alerted the auditors via two emails, in December 2017 and January 2018, to the existence of a hidden bank account and the practice of unaccounted cash payments.
PwC had validated the company’s accounts between 2005 and 2017, without any irregularities.
Hearings, searches, indictments
The judicial investigation led to hearings and searches, notably at the bank where the hidden account had been opened in 1988. In February 2021, the two brothers were indicted.
The account was credited through rebates, discounts and supplier rebates. The brothers withdrew €1,087,050 from the account through cash withdrawals or cheque issues. €3,656,033 were also appropriated via cash receipts for orders whose vouchers were then erased from the accounts.
With their backs to the wall, the Grosbuschs acknowledged the facts and therefore negotiated a settlement. In determining the sanctions, the court took into account various mitigating circumstances: confessions, absence of previous convictions, accounting rectifications, tax refunds--since corrective statements were issued and purchase transactions were questioned--and the relative age of the facts.
This puts an end to this story for André and René Gosbusch. But it is an ugly stain and bad publicity for the company that René Grosbusch has since transferred to his two children.
This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.