A court in A Coruña dismisses Sandra Ortega’s lawsuit against the former manager of her fortune | Economy

Sandra Ortega, in a file image.
Sandra Ortega, in a file image.Getty Images

Tables for the moment in the judicial dispute between Sandra Ortega, daughter of the founders of Inditex and second largest shareholder of the textile company, and the former manager of his property company José Leyte. If at the beginning of the year he lost the trial in which he asked for compensation higher than the one he received for his sudden dismissal, now it is the businesswoman who has not managed to get the courts to endorse her point of view in that dispute. A court in A Coruña has dismissed the complaint that Ortega filed against Leyte for unfair administration, accusing him of acting behind his back.

The car, overtaken by The voice of Galicia and to which EL PAÍS has had access, maintains that “it cannot be considered sufficient evidence of an action by the defendant (…) against the will of the sole administrator, nor carried out without its consent.” The Investigating Court number 2 of A Coruña has ruled on Leyte’s actions in relation to some letters that served the hotel chain Room Mate, of businessman Kike Sarasola, to request some loans putting Ortega’s fortune as a guarantee of payment, which has a stake in the hotel company. The businesswoman from Coruña maintained that Leyte had signed them on her behalf without her knowledge and exceeding her duties. The judge, however, considers that this has not been proven in the process and that the testimonies of some Ortega employees are not sufficient proof. For this reason, she orders the dismissal in a car dated this Friday and against which there is an appeal.

Sandra Ortega is the eldest daughter of Amancio Ortega, the largest shareholder of Inditex, and his former wife, Rosalía Mera. When the latter died in 2013, she inherited Rosp Corunna, the company with which she manages 5% of the shares she has in the parent company of Zara and other textile brands such as Massimo Dutti, Bershka or Pull & Bear. But in addition, Rosp has other investments, from real estate in the US to stakes in other companies, including the Room Mate chain. That participation was born from the good relationship between Mera and Sarasola, and was maintained when the company passed into the hands of Ortega. As did José Leyte, who had been Mera’s right-hand man for many years, also continued in his position as CEO.

The relationship, however, abruptly broke up at the end of 2020. Leyte was fired, which led to cross disputes. In the background of the matter was the poor financial performance of Room Mate. Ortega accused the former manager of abusing his signature to favor Sarasola’s businesses against an express order he had given him in 2014. The order, however, indicates that two of those letters addressed to Bankinter were signed in 2014 and 2016 by the own businesswoman. This, during her interrogation, argued that it was about extending existing guarantees and not guaranteeing new loans, but the judge appreciates that “the explanations offered in this regard are vague.”

In addition, the judge rejects that Leyte tried to hide the letters from Ortega. “The comfort letters [el término inglés con que se conocen esas cartas de patrocinio en el argot financiero] that endorsed the bank financing of Room Mate circulated through the offices of Rosp with the knowledge of its employees, ”says the order.

But the problems over the relationship between Rops Corunna and Room Mate have not been limited to the legal dispute between the eldest daughter of the founders of Zara and her former trusted man. Four banks (Deustche Bank, Abanca, Bankinter and Société Générale) that granted financing to the hotel chain tried to enter the case against Ortega for guaranteeing with their signature loans that the hotel chain did not repay. According to the entities, it had caused them a loss of 150 million euros and for this reason they asked that it be investigated if they had incurred in fraud or procedural fraud. The Provincial Court of A Coruña, however, did not admit this complaint for processing, alleging that Ortega was the accusation and that investigating it would cause a great “delay in the process”. The order did not allow an appeal, but it opened the door for the entities to initiate another subsequent procedure if they considered it appropriate.

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