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Pescanova executives ordered to put up $1.6 billion against claims

MADRID (Reuters) - Executives at Spanish fishing firm Pescanova (MCE:PVA), including its former chairman, were ordered by a judge on Monday to put up more than 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion) to cover potential damages after it filed for insolvency in April.

Pescanova has become one of the most high-profile cases in a year of record-high bankruptcies in Spain after auditors said managers had tried to conceal the extent of its debt.

Manuel Fernandez de Sousa, who stepped down as chairman in July after more than three decades, but who remains a board member, has been charged with falsifying information and insider trading. He has denied any wrongdoing.

The judge leading the investigation ordered Fernandez de Sousa to deposit just under 179 million euros.

The funds will guarantee payouts to claimants, including several shareholders who lost money in Pescanova, if those charged are found guilty.

Other former and present board members and executives connected to the company's management and six companies they either represented as board members or were related to in other ways were ordered to put up smaller amounts.

Pescanova itself has to deposit 55 million euros.

The judge gave them 10 days to produce the money before he orders their assets to be seized.

Pescanova's insolvency process could take months or years, ending either in liquidation or a plan to refloat.

($1 = 0.7584 euros)

(Reporting by Sarah White and Tomas Cobos; Editing by Louise Ireland and Fiona Ortiz)