It Goes From Bad to Worse with Franco Dragone

Franco Dragone, who became famous the world over with his Cirque du Soleil creations, is on the verge of bankruptcy. His real estate portfolio in Belgium has also been confiscated.

The production company of the 65-year-old businessman from La Louvière, Productions du Dragone, has been facing financial problems for several years. In recent months, the situation has only become more difficult. A large number of employees, including communication staff and IT specialists, have been dismissed. Of the 31 employees at the beginning of this year, 19 are still working, half of whom have been given notice of dismissal.

Although the management told the staff that it wanted to keep activity in La Louvière, the socialist trade union believes that a closure is imminent. The SudPresse newspapers also take into account the relocation of activities to the Canadian subsidiary in Montreal.

Money laundering

Fraud issues also play tricks on Dragone. At the end of 2015, Dragone was suspected of tax fraud and money laundering. The confiscation by the Belgian state of his real estate portfolio – said to involve several houses, apartments and land – takes place in the context of this fraud case. The court wants to prevent Dragone from taking the neighbourhood abroad.

His name already appeared in the Panama Papers. Dragone, who is also suspected of tax constructions on the British Virgin Islands, would have had a law firm set up in that tax paradise to collect royalties on his shows at a favourable tax rate.

If the businessman is convicted, it is a stain on a career that reads like a fairy tale. The creative genius from La Louvière was born in Cairano, Italy and emigrated with his parents to the industrial city at the age of 7. His father worked in the mines there. After his studies at the Royal Conservatory of Mons, Dragone went to Canada, where he met Guy Laliberté, the founder of Cirque du Soleil. This acquaintance resulted in a collaboration. Dragone directed ten major shows for the renowned circus company.

Spectacle maker

In 2000 he returned to La Louvière to set up his own production company. He wanted to give something back to the inhabitants of the city who made him who he was: a socially engaged, successful showmaker.

There was no lack of beautiful deals. Dragone decorated a mega deal in China, shows in Paris Lido and the final show of the World Cup in Brazil. But the brilliant he was as an artist, the more disastrous he was as a businessman. The company had serious cash problems. In 2012, Yves Delacollette, the ex-CEO of Deutsche Bank Belgium, as yet another CEO, had to curb his costly artistry urge, but in 2015 it came to a break between the two.

{ SOURCE: de Tijd }