Saturday, March 2

The Supreme exempts the owner of the Olivenza slaughterhouse from paying the debt to Social Security

The Olivenza slaughterhouse closed its doors for the last time in 2019. / TODAY

The Treasury seized their accounts in 2018 due to the defaults of the previous owners, a decision that is now annulled by the court

Evaristo Fdez de Vega

Golden Worldwide Trade SL, the company that in 2014 took over the property of the Olivenza slaughterhouse, will not have to face the nearly 400,000 euros that the previous owners owed to Social Security when they applied for bankruptcy.

That decision is part of the sentence issued by the Contentious-Administrative Chamber of the Supreme Court, whose magistrates annul a previous sentence of the Superior Court of Justice of Extremadura in which the current owners were forced to face those debts.

The ruling takes into account the proposals made by Vicente Carretero, from Carretero Abogados-Ilex Abogados. He has been the lawyer who has represented the interests of Al-Khatib, the businessman of Jordanian origin who in 2014 acquired the slaughterhouse through the company Golden Worldwide Trade.

The sentence recalls that Golden bought the facilities from Ganados y Productos Industriales, which in turn had acquired it from Caja Rural de Almendralejo, the bank that took over the property when the companies Matadero de Olivenza SL and Cárnica Oliventina were unable to meet the debts contracted by the slaughterhouse and applied for bankruptcy.

The arrival of Golden was a boost to a slaughterhouse that was presumed to be viable given that the businessman had good relations in the Arab world and that placed him in a good position when it came to placing production.

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But expectations were dashed when Al-Khatib decided to step aside in 2018 and leased the slaughterhouse to an Irish company that barely kept it running for a few months.

Al-Khatib’s decision coincided with the seizures made by the Social Security Treasury to Golden to ensure the collection of the 369,839.24 euros that the companies Matadero de Olivenza and Cárnica Oliventina (those two companies belonged to the conglomerate of the Ruiz family Mateos) owed Social Security when they entered bankruptcy proceedings in 2009.

Al-Khatib described as “incredible” that they claimed a debt contracted by a company that was not his. “We are in court and we will win, but the damage is done,” he said then.

A year later, the Contentious-Administrative Chamber of the Superior Court of Justice of Extremadura agreed with the Social Security Treasury in its right to collect from Golden the debts contracted by the Ruiz Mateos family. But it is now, in an order dated May 17, when the Supreme exempts Al-Khatib from the obligation to pay that money.

Al-Khatib sees possible the sale of the slaughterhouse to a company in the sector now that that debt of 369,000 euros does not weigh on it

The sentence confirms that the successive sales of the company supposed a continuity of the slaughterhouse in its activity. “Golden continued the activities that the three previous companies had been carrying out and what is more significant, practically all of the workforce was transferred.”

But although the continuation in the activity is considered proven, the Supreme Court determines that this succession should only be considered for labor purposes.

Therefore, it rules out that it also affects the debts contracted with Social Security because the Bankruptcy Law that was in force when the contest became final in 2011 did not contemplate the obligation for the acquiring company (Golden) to assume the debts contracted with Social Security. by the bankrupt company (the Ruiz Mateos family).

This obligation is contemplated in the new Bankruptcy Law that was approved in 2014, whose articles expressly indicate that the succession operates “for labor and Social Security purposes”, but the Supreme makes it clear that this legal modification cannot be applied to a contest that became firm in 2011. «When the first transfer of the production unit to Caja Rural de Almendralejo took place, and when the second transfer of the installation took place to Ganados y Productos Industriales, the Bankruptcy Law in its previous wording was applicable to Royal Decree-Law 11/2014″, concludes a ruling that fully estimates the appeal filed by Golden Worldwide against the Social Security Treasury.

With this ruling, which is firm, Golden considers the possibility of requesting compensation for the consequential damage and lost profits generated by the seizure of his accounts in 2014. “That was decisive because the Social Security Treasury sent letters to our creditors to indicate that we had a debt with Social Security. Confidence in our company was broken and continuity became impossible”, explains Vicente Carretero, who anticipates that it is now more feasible to sell the slaughterhouse, whose ownership is still in the hands of Al-Khatib. “In these days we have known the purchase interest by important companies in the sector,” says the lawyer.

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