• Spain's news in English

From hero to zero: Tech boss falls from grace

The Local/AFP · 10 Jul 2014, 18:20

Published: 10 Jul 2014 18:20 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

It's been a spectacular fall from grace for the charismatic García.

Until recently, his company was riding a massive wave: it had contracts to provide free Wi-Fi in 65 cities with some 60,000 connection points in locations including Paris and New York, and on transport networks like London's Underground. 

Share prices were also rising rapidly on Spain’s Alternative Stock Market (MAB), the country’s secondary exchange where a number of tech firms are floated.

In 2013, Let’s Gowex clocked up revenues of €183 million ($248 million), a rise of 60 percent on a year earlier. Profits were also up 70 percent to €30 million.

In a June 25th interview quoted by Bloomberg, García, a father of two, said the company was “going places” and planned to provide Wi-FI to 20 percent of the world’s population.

Everything pointed to the classic tale of a self-made man, a shining example of the entrepreneurial spirit so often said to be lacking in Spain.

García, from Madrid, started out his business career when he was 14 by selling badges and cassettes at the capital’s iconic Rastro flea market.

Then, when he was just 16, his whole family died in a car accident  — “a terrible blow”, he said in one interview cited by Spain’s El Mundo newspaper.

García himself suffered 24 broken bones in the accident and his liver was split into three pieces, the paper added — although even these biographical details are being called into question in the wake of the scandal that has erupted around Let's Gowex in recent days. 

But even family tragedy didn’t stop García on the business front.

By 19 he was importing cars from Germany, which taught him about the importance of international relations, according to Spain’s El Confidencial news site.  

From 1995 to 1998 he worked with Spanish telecommunications giant, the starting point of a career based around the internet.  He had had, he said, “entrepreneurship in his veins since his youth”.

But on Thursday Spain’s High Court said it was calling Genaro into court for questioning over “his manner of falsifying accounts” after it emerged he had cooked his company’s books.

This was just the latest chapter in a rollercoaster ride of a week which has seen the suspension of trading in Let’s Gowex shares and investors and “shocked” staff saying they would launch legal action against the man once described by Spain’s El Confidencial newspaper as a “visionary”.

It all started when US firm Gotham City Research released a report calling Gowex a "charade" and that its shares were worthless. In a 93-page report, Gotham City said Gowex's actual revenues were "at most" 10 percent of those reported.

Gowex's audit fee was only €40,000, far less than would be expected for a company generating revenues of more than 180 million euros, the firm said.

"I am willing to face the consequences and cooperate with justice," García said in the wake of the revelations.

García also wrote to staff apologizing for the debacle. He had caused "irreparable damage" he said, in the open letter published in El País newspaper.

That letter concluded with the Rudyard Kipling poem “If” about the vicissitudes of fate and the meaning of maturity.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local/AFP (news@thelocal.es)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Spain worries about tourism future
Photo: Josep Lago / AFP file picture

After basking in its best tourist summer season in 15 years, Spain now sees dark clouds on the horizon as popular destinations reach saturation point and holidaymakers are more thrifty, industry experts say.

Spain’s Socialists lift veto on conservatives
The Socialists have decided to lift their veto on the minority conservative government or not. Photo: Gerard Julien/ AFP

Spain's embattled Socialists on Sunday voted to lift a long-standing veto that has prevented the conservatives from forming a minority government, in what should finally end a ten-month political impasse.

Spain's 'Napflix' aims to bore viewers to sleep
Photo: Screengrab/ Napflix

A Spanish video platform called Napflix, designed to put people to sleep with dull content, was launched this week and its founders are on the lookout for more "monotony and repetition."

Recipe: How to make fabada - traditional Asturian bean stew
Photo: Flavio Lorenzo Sánchez/Flickr

The hearty Asturian dish is a perfect lunch on a cold day... and don't forget the crusty bread and cider!

Brit 'paedo' held on Costa del Sol after Most Wanted appeal

One of Britain's most wanted fugitives was arrested on the Costa Del Sol following a tip-off from an expat just hours after his face appeared on a public appeal.

Spain's parliament approves deficit reduction measures
Photo: Images Money/Flickr

Spanish lawmakers approved on Thursday measures to reduce the public deficit and keep it under the target agreed with the European Union.

'Cubism and War' show opens at Barcelona Picasso Museum
Pablo Picasso Harlequin and Woman with a Necklace. Photo: MP

Barcelona's Picasso Museum unveiled an exhibition on "Cubism and War" on Thursday depicting how one of the most influential artistic styles of the 20th century survived the First World War.

Why this bionic limb pioneer doesn't believe in disability
Hugh Herr has been award Spain's top science prize. Photo: FPA

The Local speaks to Hugh Herr on winning Spain's top science prize and how being an amputee doesn't make him disabled.

Dine in the buff at Spain's first nudist restaurant
A buffet of organic food will be served on "human tables". Photo: Innato / Facebook

Spain's first naked dining experience is to arrive on the island of Tenerife following the success of a similar venture in London.

Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Photo: AFP

Spain's Constitutional Court on Thursday cancelled a bullfighting ban in Catalonia in what is likely to exacerbate tensions between Madrid and the separatist region, and between animal activists and fans of the tradition.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
Bison found decapitated on Valencia nature reserve
Forgotten Voices: What Brits in Spain think about Brexit
One dead and 14 injured in blast at Spanish resort
Game of Thrones want extras 'with muscles' to film in Spain
Thousands march in Madrid to push for bullfighting ban
jobs available