Snake on a Plane?

German Pellets CEO Raises Suspicions

leibold.dpa.Jens Büttner
Peter Leibold, head of the bankrupt heating fuel producer German Pellets, is raising eyebrows with his behavior.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Suspicions of corruption are growing at insolvent German heating fuel company German Pellets. New allegations focus on the company’s auditor.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • German Pellets produced wood pellets for heating, as well as animal products. It filed for bankruptcy on February 10, 2016.
    • After rapid expansion in recent years, the firm left nearly €500 million in outstanding costs and liabilities. Bondholders may lose their entire capital.
    • Shortly before the bankruptcy, hundreds of millions of euros seem to have been moved to associated companies in the United States.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Peter Leibold has clocked up quite a few miles of late.

The founder and chief executive of insolvent heating fuel producer German Pellets has been flying – or is it fleeing? – around Europe in a private jet, announcing new deals while leaving a bankruptcy mess in his wake. His transportation costs alone last week come to an estimated €25,000, or about $27,500.

German Pellets declared bankruptcy on February 10, leaving a mere €5,000 in the bank and raising many questions over missing money. Some 17,000 small German investors, who bought the company’s high-risk, high-yield bonds, stand to lose their capital, while 600 employees wait to hear about their jobs.

Mr. Leibold’s jaunts across Europe are just the latest plot twist in this economic thriller, centered on the family-owned firm, where debts may run over €500 million. His moves have astonished and angered creditors.

Meanwhile, Handelsblatt has learned that operations at the wood pellet manufacturer are currently suspended while the bankruptcy administrator seeks millions in fresh capital to restart production.

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