Adria administrator drops case against former CEO

Adria Airways’ bankruptcy administrator has dropped proceedings to hold one of the former national airlines’ CEOs, Sven Kukelmelk, responsible for the company’s collapse. Mr Kukelmelk from Estonia joined Adria just months before the airline declared bankruptcy and was the carrier’s CEO jointly with Holger Kowarsch. Last year, the bankruptcy administrator filed a 78-million-euro lawsuit against the former company’s managers and owners for the damage they caused to its creditors by financially draining the airline. However, in his recent regular report, Adria’s bankruptcy administrator noted, “The court issued a decision by which it asks the bankruptcy administrator to submit the translation of documents into the Estonian language or to deposit an advance of 45.000 euros for the translation of documents for defendant Sven Kukelmelk (manager only around four months before the start of the bankruptcy), otherwise court proceedings against Sven Kukelmelk would cease. According to available information and assessments, the role played by Sven Kukelmelk from Estonia was relatively small (if any) in causing the damage that is part of the lawsuit. For this reason and for budgetary purposes, we decided not to go ahead with these large costs. If necessary, the procedure can be reversed and the aforementioned case can still be re-filed”.

When Adria declared bankruptcy in October 2019, it owed tens of millions of euros to its suppliers, leasing companies, airports, airlines, employees and other creditors. The lawyers hired by the bankruptcy administrator studied the forensic audit of Adria and found that some managers had violated insolvency legislation. While knowing Adria was insolvent, they did not ask owner 4K Invest to supply it with fresh capital as promised nor declared bankruptcy. Instead, they addressed Adria’s financial issues with “problematic bookkeeping tricks”. For this reason, they are liable to pay the difference between the claims and the proceeds from the bankruptcy estate sold. Lawsuits filed against former CEOs Arno Schuster and Holger Kowarsch are ongoing.

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