Sunday 18 April 2021

Transport equipment importer Pon loses €75m to internal fraud

Row of heavy construction excavator machine  against blue sky in a construction site.

Pon, the importer of Volkswagen cars and other transport equipment, has been hit by a €75 mln fraud related to illicit selling on of spare parts for Caterpillar earth-moving equipment.

An investigation by the Financieele Dagblad has uncovered a system of ‘creative bookkeeping’ carried out by Pon employees over the years which contravened regulations set by both Pon and Caterpillar.

Pon, which has annual turnover of €7bn, has been the importer and distributor of Caterpillar equipment and spare parts in the Netherlands and several other European countries since 1927.

The affair came to light when the Financieele Dagblad acquired a large dossier with confidential findings by the Pinkerton detective agency, accountancy group KPMG, lawyers, witness statements and an unpublished ruling by Rotterdam district court.

The documents show Pon has concluded that a number of its employees have been systematically defrauding the company through a conspiracy of illicit trade.

This involves a part-time Pons account manager in a blue Ferrari who prepared the scheme, cash withdrawals of hundreds of thousands of euros, deposits to secret bank accounts, payments through pre-paid credit cards and gifts of cars, scooters, kitchens, plane trickets and trips to the Dakar car rallies, the FD said.

Caterpillar, which has not yet commented, can levy heavy fines for violation of its rules.

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