Swiss law firm Wenger Plattner continues to stall the disbursal of funds to creditors in the liquidation of assets belonging to envion AG as the liquidation enters its 5th year. Pablo Duc, the lawyer spearheading the nearly all cash liquidation, alleges he is still busy preparing the schedule of claims after over 18 months since the closing of the portal for filing claims on May 15, 2021.
Liquidation proceedings were announced on December 7, 2018, putting the liquidator in massive breach of Swiss bankruptcy law for his failure to draw up a schedule of claims and make payments to creditors from envion’s estate of approximately CHF 40 million (USD 43.4 million). In Switzerland, the schedule of claims ascertains which creditors’ claims are substantiated and lists the classes of secured and unsecured creditors. The schedule of claims is subject to legal challenge before being finalized, after which the distribution plan is drawn up and proceeds or certificates of shortfall are distributed to creditors.
It’s against the law to delay a liquidation
The Swiss Federal Supreme Court has ruled several times that a schedule of claims must be drawn up quickly; the liquidator’s assertion that individual claim filings raise sensitive legal issues does not provide sufficient reason to postpone the drawing up of the schedule of claims. Decisions on contentious claims must be suspended and a schedule of claims for these special cases completed at a later date.
Envion’s thousands of creditors are being denied justice by being forced to wait over 4 years for the bankruptcy schedule and payments on account. It’s been 5 years since CEO Matthias Woestmann and collaborators Thomas van Aubel and Jutta von Falkenhausen initiated an illegal capital raise in January of 2018 and ceased company operations, thereby forcing out envion’s founders and leading to the collapse of the firm.
An all-cash liquidation shouldn’t take 5 years
The envion liquidation provides the perfect case study for an expeditious completion of the schedule of claims. Nearly 100% of envion’s assets are cash sitting in bank accounts (being depleted by negative interest rates). The conditions by which investors participated in the envion ICO are simple and clear—they should have long since been established beyond doubt by the liquidator. Starting on October 28, 2019, investors submitted claims to the liquidator via an online portal by providing proof of payment (either via crypto or credit card) demonstrating that they were entitled to receive EVN tokens. The portal was closed on May 15, 2021.
Even if certain claims required additional auditing, taking more than one year to clarify the facts of a small number of cases is indefensible. Significantly, the liquidator has not consulted any of the service providers commissioned by envion during the ICO. Not one. Nor has he consulted the founders/Trado. If Pablo Duc had genuine interest in pursuing justice for creditors, he would have taken these basic steps to clarify the facts for the vast majority of creditors and published a schedule of claims after a maximum of 6 months.
Open questions could then have been put aside for a later addition to the schedule of claims. It is clear from this procedure that the liquidator has no interest whatsoever in fulfilling his obligations to draw up the schedule of claims quickly and to make payments to creditors. Instead, he prefers to run the proceedings as long as possible and collect fees for this.
One in 5 dollars wasted in legal fees
Stalling the liquidation is a lucrative enterprise for Wenger Plattner. The law firm estimates it will collect CHF 8.2 million (USD 8.9 million), or one-fifth of envion’s total assets, for executing an all-cash liquidation—money that should be returned to creditors.