Eurocommerce was one of the largest office developers in the Netherlands and went under after the credit crisis of 2008. This was not only the result of tough economic times, but also because of a cunning pyramid scheme and the bad name of director Ger Visser.
In 2012, curator Paul Schepel of JPR Advocaten was approached because Eurocommerce had applied for suspension of payment. In Onder Curatoren, Schepel says that the company that ‘proud to have developed more than 750 office buildings’, faced a vacancy rate of 47 percent. That percentage was much higher than the average and entailed enormous costs.
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Eurocommerce did good business by finding tenants for properties as quickly as possible. According to Schepel, a property with tenants is worth ‘a factor of two to three’ more to investors. After the financial crisis of 2008, however, large-scale cutbacks were made by the business community and the government. This made it increasingly difficult to find tenants for newly completed business premises.
Tricks and counterfeiting
A trick Visser pulled was to move tenants from a building he had previously developed to a new project. According to Schepel, this angered investors, because ‘then you have to watch out that you buy a building like this from Mr Visser again’.
Over time, Visser began to falsify rental agreements so that it appeared that tenants were living in an empty building. Visser even went so far as to transfer the rent from one account to another for a year, to ‘make the bank believe that there were tenants in the building’.
The bank smelled trouble and, according to Schepel, it was quite easy to find out whether there were actually tenants in a building. ‘It is starting to notice that the lights remain off and that there are very few cars in the parking lot.’
When Visser realized that the curtain was about to fall, he tried to transfer possessions to his immediate family in a cunning manner. His son was allowed to take over the prominent horse racing stable, with which he had reached the Olympic Games, for 7 million euros. At the same time, Eurocommerce would also sponsor a million for seven years. Schepel: ‘so on balance the son just got the stable for nothing’.
He gave his daughter a hotel-restaurant in Gorssel and his wife a number of cars. Schepel calls him a ‘tough businessman’ where you ‘really have to watch your fingers’. In the end, these donations were all reversed. According to Schepel, the completion of the bankruptcy will take several years. In addition, three criminal cases are pending against Visser.