Speci has been bankrupt since Monday. Speci was the umbrella company of the Cristal Park real estate megaproject in Seraing. The only one whose shareholders were completely deprived.
Speci was initially owned by the kingpin of the Cristal Park project, Pierre Grivegnée (35%), and his partner and financial backer, businessman Guido Eckelmans (65%). The latter had recovered for the symbolic euro, at the beginning of July 2022, the shares of Pierre Grivegnée, currently detained at home on the charge of misuse of corporate assets. Guido Eckelmans had therefore become the sole shareholder of the society.
Speci was in judicial reorganization procedure since July 28, at the same time as the nesting companies Immoval and Valinvest, Immobilière Deprez and the non-profit organization Cristal Discovery. Of these five entities linked to Cristal Park, Speci was the only one to have so far escaped bankruptcy. This bankruptcy was declared on the summons of the public prosecutor.
SPVs still “standing”
Speci was the company behind all the Cristal Park editing. It was the main shareholder of Valinvest, which was a shareholder of Immoval, which itself was a shareholder in a series of other companiesthe “SPV” (Special Purpose Vehicles), which embodied the different facets of the project and whose bankruptcies could well follow (see diagram below). In this assembly, the public funds were largely in the majority, but the private shareholder, supported by the Seresian political power, kept control.
Launched in 2004, the Cristal Park project was intended to relaunch economic, tourist, commercial and real estate activity on the former site of the Cristalleries du Val Saint-Lambert in Seraing. Despite the 40 million mostly public money mobilized, the project did not succeed. The thousand jobs announced were never created.
Held at home until February 13
Le Vif and RTBF have investigated for a year on this project and revealed, on July 7, the existence of false invoices made before 2012 by the former head of the project, Pierre Grivegnée, for a total amount of 900,000 euros. Pierre Grivegnée, in confession to these forgeries, has been in detention since mid-October. After a month spent in a cell at Lantin prison (Liège), he was placed under an electronic bracelet at his Brussels home until February 13. He is actually charged with misuse of corporate assets. Pierre Grivegnée, when he was the second shareholder of Speci, was also the managing director of the company.
This bankruptcy is not not really a surprise. Speci was no longer making any money. His image was damaged. The 2021 management report shows a series of dubious expenses by Pierre Grivegnée. And Guido Eckelmans announced last November that he was dropping everything and that he no longer intended to return funds to the company. The company court seems to have drawn the conclusions and therefore put Speci into bankruptcy.
David Leloup, with François Braibant (RTBF)