Privilege Yachts CEO arrested in bankruptcy investigation
by Chris Jefferies
Mario La Via, the former CEO of Privilege Yachts, has been placed under house arrest as part of an investigation into the 2015 collapse of the Italian yard.
Finance director Antonio Battista was also arrested, the public prosecutor for Citavecchia also announced last week (July 28).
The charges relate to fraudulent bankruptcy filings, tax crimes, and violating anti-mafia legislation, local publication La Nazione added. It is reported that La Via, 76, concealed the state of the company’s bankruptcy when applying for a €100 million loan from Banca Popolare dell' Etruria e del Lazio to help fund the construction of Privilege One, one of the largest new yacht projects in the world.
The men are accused of using company funds to purchase luxury cars totalling €320,000, including a Maserati and a Ferrari, according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica. The far-reaching operation also included the seizure of a real estate portfolio worth around €25 million, and prosecutors claim that Privilege Yachts paid for the rent on the house of Pasqualino Monti, president of the Civitavecchia port authority.
Privilege Yachts was founded in 2006 and in 2008 it signed a contract to build the 126 metre superyacht Privilege One with funding from a consortium of five Italian banks. A 137 metre yacht based on the same design was also said to be under construction at the Citavecchia yard.
Construction stalled in 2012 when one of the backers, Banca Etruria, pulled out, but in 2014 La Via claimed that he had secured further finance and planned to launch Privilege One before the end of the year. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2015 with reported debts of €210 million, and an auction in July last year failed to attract a buyer.
Privilege Yachts is not to be confused with the French yard Privilege Marine, the builder of Privilège catamarans, who are based in Les Sables-d'Olonne and won the Prix Etienne Marcel award for responsible entrepreneurship in July 2016.