Robert has built his hardware store from the ground up and, as the head of the family, expects his children to do what he asks of them without asking too many questions. “He got us out of school very early to work with him”. In any case, it is the statement that Sylvaine*, the daughter, pounded out this Thursday before the criminal court of Saint-Pierre. In 2004 the family founded a new company, the hardware store A. Sylvaine became its legal director. The young woman continues to do administrative tasks and take care of the money transfers, but Robert, the father, still pulls the strings. In 2007, the financial difficulties became more and more serious. To deal with this, Robert encourages Sylvaine to cash company checks on her personal account and then give her the money in cash to pay the suppliers, he assures her.
But the hole in the boxes is getting bigger and bigger. It must be said that Robert also receives salaries, although he does not appear on the articles of association of the company that is ultimately placed under receivership. “We didn’t really know how to run a company. I left school in the 9th grade and my father can’t read or write.” Sylvaine book as an explanation. However, an accountant helps the family with their strategy. The man was never interviewed but appears to play a crucial role in choosing the father’s financial plan. A second company, DIY store M, opened to save DIY store A. In fact, the assets of the first are emptied in favor of the second. Sylvain*, the son, takes over the management. The father’s influence and the deceptions that Sylvain uncovers lead him to oppose the patriarch for the first time. Shortly thereafter, he took control of the management, says Sylvain, who filed a complaint. One complaint was eventually closed with no follow-up. The family is caught in a vicious circle.
Robert therefore asks the son-in-law to go to the hardware store M. The son-in-law becomes the straw manager again as he continues to serve the boards and cement in the yard without worrying about the rest. Adding to the embezzlements are thefts that drive the new structure further towards the end. Nothing works anymore.
“The Apotheosis of a Dallas Family Drama”
A total of at least 500,000 euros were diverted from checks and cash by companies. For Sylvain, it is not up to the children to pay for the embezzlement of the father, who is absent from his trial on medical grounds.
Being a legal manager is a question of responsibility, says the prosecutor, who recalls that DIY store A left a debt of 1.6 million euros, 800,000 of which were unpaid to suppliers; the hardware store M. 200,000 euros. Even if the prosecution recognizes that the accountant’s responsibility can be questioned, he asks for 12 months fixed but convertible against Patriarch Robert and a fine of 50,000 euros. A punishment he believes is justified by the 9 offenses he is accused of and the fact that he has raised his children.
For Sylvaine, the “had the till, but was also a puppet”, 2 years probation and a fine of 30,000 euros are applied for. Her husband risks a 12-month grace period and a fine of 15,000 euros. A definitive ban on cultivation is also being applied for for all three. Prosecutors are demanding a 6-month grace period and a €8,000 fine against Sylvain to allow him to continue his personal business.
Looking at the court, it’s a bit “The Apotheosis of a Dallas Family Drama”, notes Me Farid Issé, lawyer for Sylvaine and her husband. It’s also the story of a 72-year-old man who started picking up rusty nails, patching them up to sell them on, the black dress tells. Many of Reunion’s great family fortunes began their adventures this way, recalls Me Issé, who regrets that this family did not manage to structure itself.
The consultation is expected to take place on June 2nd.