Venezuela’s economy has been rankled by a years-long, sky-high unemployment which appeared to claim as a victim a General Motors plant that hadn’t produced a car since 2015. Workers at the factory, about 2,700 in total, were allegedly laid-off by text message. But Reuters dug in and discovered there’s more to the GM saga—and, ho boy, is it an interesting tale.
The weird dispute that exploded in April is linked to a guy named Kaled Kansao, Reuters reports, the former owner of two shuttered GM dealerships. At the time, GM called the seizure “arbitrary” and an “illegal judicial seizure of its assets,” but it made no mention of Kansao’s suit. A GM spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but we’ll update the story if we hear back.
Kansao and GM have been locked in a lengthy court battle, according to Reuters—and I’m not kidding, it has gone on a long time.
Kansao convinced a court to seize the plant as the remedy for a relatively small-time business dispute - over GM’s termination of his franchises - that mushroomed into a 17-year court battle.
It’s not unusual for cases in the U.S. to take years to slog through our backlogged judicial system. But 17 years, goddamn. I barely have the conviction to see through an hour at the gym.
There’s a colorful he-said-she-said backstory between GM and Kansao—who operated the two dealerships with a business partner named Elena Rodriguez—that makes Reuters entire piece well-worth your time, but the upshot is this:
In the end, a civil court in the western state of Zulia granted [Kansao and Rodriguez’s] request to attach GM assets worth up to about $115 million.
Venezuelan law requires the court to auction off the factory to satisfy the judgment.
Whether Kansao sees a dime of the judgment is another story. That depends on the government finding a suitor for the now-shuttered factory, Reuters says, and Kansao doesn’t seem too optimistic, telling the news agency “only God knows” what type of buyer might be attracted to the facility.
But, in the end, the Venezuelan court essentially found that two auto dealerships = $115 million. Incredible.