The first creditors’ meeting concerning the insolvency of the German shipping container lessor P&R took place in Munich yesterday, in which it emerged the leasor sold around 1m containers that actually did not exist, making the scam one of the largest economic scandals in German post-war history.
Based in Grünwald near Munich, P&R sold new and used containers to investors, rented them back and offered to repurchase them after five years for 65% of the original value.
In total, P&R claimed it had sold some 1.6m containers to around 54,000 investors for a total EUR3.5bn euros ($4.12bn).
But a tally made after its German units filed for insolvency earlier this year has shown that P&R only has a fleet of around 618,000 containers, administrator Michael Jaffe said in a statement.
The fraud could cause damages of up to EUR2bn
Heinz Roth, founder of P&R, has been in pre-trial confinement since mid-September.
Following the bankruptcy of P&R, investors have filed more than 80,000 claims.
Commenting on LinkedIn earlier this year, Splash columnist Tobias Koenig, the managing director at Lexington Maritime, wrote: “We always thought that PR Containers ran a Ponzi system. But never I thought that it was that bad… incredible.”