DEPA ups payment pressure on debt-ridden ELFE with extrajudicial action

DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation, following up on a recent Athens Court of First Instance decision against debt-ridden ELFE (Hellenic Fertilizers and Chemicals), has applied further pressure on the industrial producer by taking extrajudicial action to demand 50 percent cash payments, beginning this Friday, for weekly gas orders or have its supply interrupted.

Last week, prior to this latest development, the Athens Court of First Instance rejected an appeal made by ELFE seeking temporary DEPA gas supply and the right to keep using postdated checks as payment for these orders.

DEPA’s extrajudicial step now places a demand on the ELFE board to honor a decision taken by the gas corporation’s shareholders last summer for weekly cash payments covering 50 percent of gas supply and provision of the remaining amount through checks issued by customers and non-related firms.

The snowballing judicial action has obviously hastened the previously slow developments concerning ELFE’s debt, now up to 110 million euros.

At this stage, one of two scenarios is possible. ELFE will either conjure up cash from some unexpected source and hand it over to DEPA or the industrial producer will be forced to stop operating, an inevitable prospect should DEPA stop supplying gas.

ELFE no longer controls any property assets which it could have offered as collateral for continued DEPA gas supply. Over a two-year period, the producer systematically unloaded property assets to other companies. Restrictions were imposed on these ELFE assets in 2014 as part of a money laundering probe.