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Industry

Warning issued against Italian supplier Prontotec

An industry member has voiced concerns over the integrity of an Italian bookbinding equipment supplier.

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An industry member has warned of a supplier

Directors of Prontotec Italy, Gianluca and Alessandro Bonetto, and Paolo Candeo, are accused of operating a dishonest and fraudulent business and as the result of a separate incident, have wound up in Italian court.

Describing his own personal experience with the firm, Paul Cox, owner of South African firm, Ronnie Cox Graphic Supplies, reveals how as a direct result of dealing with the company, he paid a €99,000 (£85,000) deposit for a machine he never received.

Cox describes how he was first approached in August 2017 by Gianluca Bonetto, who claimed to be from the company H2O Consulting Group and introduced himself as a supplier of book binding and folding machinery.

According to Cox, Bonetto claimed that Prontotec was the owner of three brands: Risetec, Technograf and Bonelli. Cox has since learned that this is not the case, as he personally visited the Risetec factory and met with its owners. Technograf and Bonelli have been made insolvent.

“I knew of the company Risetec as a manufacturer of bookbinding machinery, and I knew of the name Bonelli as a manufacturer of folding machines,” Cox explains, adding: “I was less familiar with the name Technograf but was aware of them.”

At this point in time, Bonetto sent me a video of a machine that he said they had built and delivered. This is fake, as the video was made by another company and the machine was built by Risetec

Bonetto presented himself as looking to open new sales channels and expressed an interest in working with Ronnie Cox Graphic Supplies as a distributor in South Africa.

Cox describes how over the following months, he remained in contact with Bonetto via email, SMS and phone and in November 2017, secured an order for a four-clamp binder and three knife trimmer from a customer in South Africa.

Cox says: “At this point in time, Bonetto sent me a video of a machine that he said they had built and delivered. This is fake, as the video was made by another company and the machine was built by Risetec. Risetec did have a short relationship with Prontotec but this has been terminated according to the owners of Risetec.”

Following claims by Bonetto that the firm had developed a patented, unique, new concept that would “revolutionise” perfect binders, a sale was agreed upon. After being required to sign a non-disclosure regarding the technology, Cox agreed to a sales contract in which a 50% deposit amounting to €99,000 (£85,000) was paid in three amounts between February and March 2018.

I had requested this term as this machine was going to be the first of this so-called patented version in production, and therefore we wanted to be sure the machine would function correctly

“The machines would be installed and the customer could use them for six months and if satisfied would pay the balance after that six months. If the machines did not meet the performance criteria, they could be returned and we would be refunded in full.” Cox explains, adding: “I had requested this term as this machine was going to be the first of this so-called patented version in production, and therefore we wanted to be sure the machine would function correctly.”

Some time after paying the deposit, Cox explains that he began to enquire about the progress of the construction and was told the machines were “well underway”. When he received photos of the supposed construction, concerns were immediately raised as the images were of a Heidelberg binder with a chain drive system to carry the book clamps, contradicting the patent described by Bonetto.

Cox requested to visit the factory to view the machines and as a result says he was accused of not being able to pay for the rest of the machine after delivery. By this point the delivery date had passed and Cox describes communication from the company as “sparse” despite repeated efforts to contact the directors.

The directors are believed to have appeared in Italian court relating to other incidents

Concluding the incident, Cox says: “I flew to Italy end of July/early August 2018 and went to the factory. I was refused entry by a female staff member who said I needed an appointment to be allowed into the premises. I then contacted the Italian police and asked for help.

“I went back to the factory the next day and again was refused access. The Italian police said that as the factory was private property, they could not assist me to get access to the site. I have reported the matter, made a full statement and laid a charge with the Italian police. In hindsight, this has all the hall-marks of an orchestrated fraud.”

According to Italian news reports, Paolo Candeo was recently sentenced to a two-and-a-half-year jail sentence for the fraudulent bankruptcy of Technograf. It is believed that Gianluca and Alessandro Bonetto are both currently awaiting sentencing after being accused of transferring the assets of Technograf over to Prontotec “for free”. This is alleged to involve the transfer of the entire start-up of Technograf including the machinery, warehouse and gains from orders.

The report claims a combined total of €72,000 (£62,000) was avoided from INPS (National Institute for Social Security) as a result of this.

An Italian report describes a recent court case concerning the Bonetto brothers and Paolo Candeo

Translated into English, the news report says: “The two Bonetto brothers are accused of having distracted from the coffers of the company one million euros between 2014 and 2015.

“Still, they would have kept the books and accounting records in such a way as not to make it possible to reconstruct business movements, with untruthful documents. Even financial statements would have been made with fictitious or overvalued assets.” 

Prontotec denies any wrongdoing in terms of dealing with Cox. When contacted for comment, a spokesperson said: “South Africa is an open issue where as well the Italian Authorities and lawyer do not recognise the right for any action considering the contract made between the parts were not respected.

“We offered a few solutions to Mr Cox but we never arrived to one solution because he refused any way to solve the issue. He is also doing illegal action writing to everyone and publicising on channels like Facebook with fake information and bad messages only active to damage the image of Prontotec. The Italian authorities already advised about that because this kind of way to do business is considered illegal in Italy, more so when you do not get the right to declare it.

In reality, there were two parties in South Africa that were impacted by this. Firstly ourselves, but of course, more importantly from our perspective, our customer had a major problem with this

“We call it defamation. There are right places to seek justice like the court and they already asked for it and it was refused because they do not have the right to do it.”

In response, Cox adds: “The response from Prontotec is as expected. In one breath they are saying the courts did not proceed with the matter, and in the next, they say the matter is still open with the Italian authorities. Prontotec have never offered a solution, other than to say they will refund the money, and never did. Not one Euro.

“In reality, there were two parties in South Africa that were impacted by this. Firstly ourselves, but of course, more importantly from our perspective, our customer had a major problem with this. They had set up an entire new division, and our non-delivery of the binder and trimmer had a major impact on them at that time.

“I welcome any person to contact me in relation to this matter. I wish to make this matter public in order to try and assist other companies to not fall victim to this sort of illegal behaviour.”

If you have any news, please email carys@linkpublishing.co.uk or join in with the conversation on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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