SAR premium cars AG, one of the largest cases of white collar crime in the canton of Aargau

SAR premium cars AG was a Dintikon-based car garage operated by Riccardo Santoro, who offered cheap and flexible car leasing since 2007. The leasing was concluded in each case via Fidis Finance (Suisse) SA. Compared to its competitors, SAR premium cars AG was able to offer exceptional conditions, which many customers took advantage of. Despite the short-term flourishing business, SAR premium cars AG recorded high long-term losses when buying back the vehicles at the end of the leasing period from Fidis Finance (Suisse) SA. This led to the company being over-indebted.

In 2010, SAR premium cars AG finally got into financial difficulties and was no longer able to meet its liabilities to the leasing company. In May 2011 the situation finally escalated and SAR premium cars AG was declared bankrupt. It was not until seven years later, in 2018, that the former king of cars, Santoro, was indicted for fraud in the millions.

"The damage caused amounted to approximately CHF 36 million".

The Public Prosecutor's Office of the Canton of Aargau conducted an extensive investigation and accused Santoro in the indictment of 89 embezzlements and in 191 cases of forgery of documents. In 50 cases of vehicle sales, Santoro is alleged to have committed commercial fraud by selling leased vehicles to several leasing companies at the same time or by selling vehicles to the same leasing company twice under false vehicle data. The accusation of embezzlement are based on the allegation that Santoro concealed the withdrawal of leased cars and subsequently sold them. As far as document fraud is concerned, Santoro is said to have forged customers' signatures, copies of vehicle registration documents and so-called Code 178 forms. As a result, vehicle registration documents of leased vehicles were cancelled, which allowed a change of ownership despite of the ongoing leasing. In view of these circumstances, it is not surprising that the public prosecutor's office also accused Santoro of falsifying the accounts of SAR premium cars AG.

The bill of indictment comprised 355 pages and was based on 376 federal procedural files. In 2012, the public prosecutor's office received around 60 criminal charges from injured parties. Due to the considerable volume of files, the cantonal parliament even granted a credit so that the public prosecutor's office could create a further eight posts to deal with the fraud case. The offence amounts to approximately CHF 36 million.

Over 40 confiscated vehicles were auctioned off by the public prosecutor's office in July 2012. The villa of Santoro was sold to the Aargauische Kantonalbank for CHF 2.34 million and the garage was sold for about CHF 1 million. Santoro was found guilty of commercial fraud, mismanagement, embezzlement, forgery of documents and disloyal management

"Santoro was found guilty of commercial fraud, mismanagement, embezzlement, falsification of documents and disloyal management".

In 2019, Santoro was sentenced to several years in prison and the criminal court awarded the aggrieved parties damages in the millions. Santoro was found guilty of commercial fraud, mismanagement, embezzlement, falsification of documents and disloyal management.

Santoro still denies the accusations of the public prosecutor's office and appealed against the decision of the district court, which is pending before the high court of the canton of Aargau.