(Bloomberg) – German financier Lars Windhorst was unable to meet a demand of around 124 million euros ($ 146 million) plus interest he owed the Monaco cruise ship tycoon after a London judge called his evidence “unsatisfactory.”
The British lawsuit was filed by Heritage Travel and Tourism Ltd. Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio is an investor in Windhorst lingerie brand La Perla Fashion Holding. The firm said it was owed money after Windhorst defaulted on payments it had negotiated through a preliminary settlement since February last year.
The case is a window into high-risk deals and relationships built by Windhorst, a former German industrial prodigy who then suffered a series of setbacks in the 2000s, including personal bankruptcy. In recent years, he has pushed for a comeback with the help of some influential European businessmen, including Lefebvre, who was previously a member of the advisory board of Tennor Holding BV Windhorst.
A Windhorst spokesman said he plans to file an appeal.
The dispute arose as a result of a series of transactions in shares of Windhorst companies that provided him and related companies with short-term loans. After his firms “defaulted”, Windhorst agreed to an amicable settlement with Heritage Travel.
Despite the settlement, the decision detailed how Windhorst then tried to avoid paying in full, arguing that he was effectively forced into a “highly disadvantageous” agreement. He claimed that Lefebvre had threatened to disclose the confidential terms of the deals to other investors.
But Judge Richard Salter disagreed, ruling that the financier had given “vague and vague” evidence.
“In my opinion, Mr. Windhorst’s testimony is in many ways unsatisfactory,” the judge said on Friday. According to the court decision, Windhorst paid only 15.6 million euros of this amount.
The negotiations with Heritage came when Windhorst was trying to untangle ties to H20 Asset Management, one of the most controversial relationships in European finance. The Berlin prosecutor’s office is now investigating Windhorst’s ties to the fund, which was controlled by the French bank Natixis SA. Windhorst said there was no violation of German banking rules.
Heritage Travel is controlled by Lefebvre’s Heritage Group, which also owns luxury travel operators Abercrombie & Kent and Cox & Kings. The Lefebvre family made a fortune carrying super-wealthy passengers on their Silversea cruise line, which was eventually sold to Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Lawyers for Heritage Travel in London did not respond to messages seeking comment. Lefebvre did not respond to an email sent through the Heritage Group.
“The litigation did not concern the principal amount of the debt, which we do not dispute and which we are ready to pay, but only the amount of interest,” a Windhorst spokesman said in a statement. “The case has been going on for over a year now and we plan to file an appeal.”
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