Belgian court rejects Brink's bankruptcy plea
A Belgian court Wednesday threw out a plea for bankruptcy by the local subsidiary of US security firm Brink's, which is at the centre of a high-profile row in the country.
The Brussels commercial tribunal rejected the claim saying its administrators "had no judicial grounds" to move its most profitable business, diamond transport, into a new company ahead of the plea, temporary administrator Alain Zenner told the local Belga news agency.
Zenner said their mandate had expired in June, before the creation of Brink's Diamond & Jewelry, rendering all management decisions, including the bankruptcy claim, nul and void.
The decision was hailed by trade unionists as a victory.
"It's good news," said Manu Morais, a leader of the leftwing SETCa-Centre union told Belga. He added that temporary administrators had found 57,000 euros on the company's books, suggesting recent transactions.
The subsidiary of the Philadelphia-based company is also facing charges of bankruptcy fraud after declaring the company in the red last Friday and firing 450 people.
The move followed two weeks of strikes and protests by staff, who were facing a change in job description and pay in line with the firm's cost-cutting plans.
A spokesman for the prosecutor's office, Jean-Marie Neilleur, told AFP this week that "an inquiry for misuse of social assets had been opened."
The firm's declaration of bankruptcy was "not receivable" as it was "premature and therefore unfounded."
The spokesman also noted that the Belgian subsidiary had transferred its diamond transport into the new company without financial compensation to the original firm.
Belgian newspaper Le Soir said the company's main creditor was its US owner to whom it owed 11 to 14 million euros.
© 2010 AFP