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What you should know about Cigna and Benko

What you should know about Cigna and Benko

Is Signa built on credit?

“Yes, Cigna's business model was largely based on loans from banks and loans from investors,” Weinhofer says. “This has worked for a long time, even with the European Central Bank’s low interest rate policy. But from 2022 onwards, it has become increasingly difficult for Benco to raise funds for its projects.” He had to accept ever higher interest rates. He also had to repeatedly pay old investors and find and attract new ones.

What mistakes did Banquo make?

“His biggest mistake was going into business as well as real estate,” Weinhofer says. German retail chain Galeria Kaufhof Karstadt went bankrupt three times, the bankruptcy of its listed online sports chain Signa Sporte United destroyed around three billion euros in assets, and the acquisition of furniture retail chain Kika/Leiner eventually ended in bankruptcy.

What are the largest bankruptcies at Cigna?

According to Creditreform, claims worth €8.61 billion were recorded with Signa Holding, €12.8 billion with Signa Prime, €2.29 billion with Signa Development, and €854 million with Benko Family Private Foundation. According to Creditreform, all Signa companies together, including one hundred bankruptcies in Germany, have liabilities of around €25 billion.

Can Cigna companies be restructured?

The holding company, Signa Holding, is now bankrupt and being liquidated. Both Signa Prime and Signa Development took out a syndicated loan so they wouldn't have to sell their properties as emergency purchases. Both companies are currently conducting so-called trust restructuring proceedings. The trustees ensure that the properties are sold within the next two to five years and that all proceeds go to the creditors. Their share ranges from 30% to 40%.

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Is Rene Benco personally bankrupt as well?

Sole proprietor Banco has slipped into bankruptcy, but not the private individual. However, as a businessman with his own assets, he is responsible for the debts.

What assets does Banco own?

He has no real estate assets and no investments in Austria. Furthermore, he is not a beneficiary of the Benko Family Private Foundation or the Laura Private Foundation.

What is Pinko actually worth?

Signa Holding paid him a gross monthly salary of €60,480. He also received a bonus of 2.5 percent of Signa Holding's profits, which was probably in the double-digit million range. In addition, he earned between €200,000 and €300,000 annually from several consulting contracts.

What does Rene Benko earn today?

Since February 2024, he has been working at Laura Asset Eins GmbH, a subsidiary of the Laura Private Foundation, which belongs to his family. According to insolvency procedures, he receives a net monthly income of 3,700 euros. According to his statements, he can only earn a living by supporting his family, especially his mother.

Where is Rene Benko being investigated?

He has been under investigation in Munich since November 2023, as well as in Liechtenstein and now also in Austria. He is being investigated in Munich and Vaduz on suspicion of money laundering. In Munich, he is said to have raised 1 billion euros from banks and investors for a project, but provided greatly exaggerated information about future rental income in order to obtain higher loans on better terms. These charges were dismissed.

What is the charge against him in Austria?

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In Austria, WKStA is leading the investigation against Benko on suspicion of fraud. In May/June 2023, Benko allegedly persuaded a bank to extend a €25 million loan without informing him of Cigna's difficulties. Banco denies these accusations.

Did Rene Benko hide?

No, he lives in Innsbruck, his lawyer Norbert Weiss confirms. This is the center of his life. His three children attend public schools in Innsbruck.

Does Benko expect to be arrested in Austria?

Probably not, he is fully cooperating with the authorities. According to a letter from his lawyer, it is unreasonable to assume that he wanted to influence witnesses and hide any traces. There are also no grounds for pretrial detention such as the risk of collusion and commission of crimes because the Signa Group is under the control of the insolvency administrators.

There is also no risk of escape. According to reports, Benko is not currently traveling abroad, including to Lake Garda, where he owns a luxury villa. The risk of arrest abroad is higher. He could be arrested and extradited to Italy on the basis of a German arrest warrant. The situation is safe in this country, and Austria does not extradite its citizens to other countries.