Europe

German chain store tycoon Schlecker in fraud trial with family

Anton Schlecker in court in Stuttgart, 6 Mar 17 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A verdict in the Anton Schlecker case is expected in October

A former giant of German retail - Anton Schlecker - has gone on trial with his wife and two children over the collapse of his pharmacy chain, which once employed some 50,000 people.

Mr Schlecker is accused of offences relating to the 2012 bankruptcy, and his family allegedly helped him. His shops sold personal hygiene goods and household articles.

"The accusations are unfounded," he objected, via his lawyer in Stuttgart.

He could get up to 10 years in jail.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In 2012 Schlecker stores closed all over Germany - this one was in Berlin

In Germany about 25,000 Schlecker staff lost their jobs, as did a similar number elsewhere in Europe, after the business filed for bankruptcy.

According to Stuttgart prosecutors, Mr Schlecker knew that bankruptcy was looming and siphoned off more than €20m (£17m; $21m) in assets, which would otherwise have gone to creditors.

He is accused of having made false statements about the company's financial situation.

Mr Schlecker's lawyer argues that his client did not imagine that the business was facing collapse.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The whole Schlecker family is on trial: wife Christa (L), son Lars (C) and daughter Meike (R)

The indictment includes the charges that Mr Schlecker spent €1m on a home renovation for his son Lars, a holiday for the children that cost tens of thousands of euros, and €800,000 in gifts for four grandchildren.

Lars and his sister Meike ran a logistics firm, LDG, which allegedly became a conduit for some of the Schlecker company assets.

His wife Christa is accused of having received tens of thousands of euros disguised as consultancy fees.

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