Three minutes to clear his debts. In Alsace and Moselle, an old German law allows bankrupt individuals.

The walls are dingy, not all the rooms heated.

The acronym for the Association Cresus does not hide its meaning (Regional Assistance Coordination against the social debt). This, on the outskirts of Strasbourg, that Croesus receives welfare recipients, the right end of the unemployed. But also doctors, business leaders, government officials. Everything but still indebted. As often, Croesus gathered that day ten visitors members. As a group, as a therapy. To help them overcome their feeling immense guilt. Around the table, there are those who are out of financial problems. And those who come to dive. Among the former, there is Roger. Roger that ensures its neighbors that “there is no shame in” to use “civil bankruptcy”. This old local law, still valid as in Alsace Moselle, which dates back to the German years (1870-1918). Something almost miraculous, allowing individuals to declare themselves insolvent, on the model of companies throughout France. With the passing of court and judicial representative in the end. Until 1990, the principle was infringed. Barely a dozen folders. Since the crisis caregiver is explosion: about 700 cases a year, including hundreds treated by Cresus.

Opposite carefully, Alain and Micheline retired (388,000 F debts); Jean-Pierre, a former (1.6 million debt) or Jean SNCF agent (1 million debt) listen to Roger. Roger direct that says, for what people say do we must do the same “. Do you give a shit” The strong laugh, Roger says. The origin of his “bullshit”, he summarizes in one sentence: “I do not remember having signed the damn papers.” Police Inspector, ten years before branching into business and debts, former cop likes to use the bluntness of his distant past. A little rough, a little mechanical rolling, very telefilm.

“Light of Day”. He pursues. His woes date back to the 80 Fed up of cop life, he embarked on the “roads of France sale of an electronic security.” And on weekends, flew to the Middle East and North Africa, where he “went up a sales network.” But independence itches, Roger set up his “box”. Beside him, his wife’s shoulder and supports bottles of Bourbon, more and more frequent. slippery slope: at Roger, manic depression lurking. And everything changes. In 1989, his bank “hold,” which she had hastened to lend him money on his own recognizance. The first registered letters fall. But interned in a psych hospital, Roger is not “in a position to respond.” It ignores the letters, throws them without even reading them. His company is declared insolvent. And mortgaged the family home, soon sold. Amount of debt: 2 million francs.

In its isolation, Roger knows nothing. His only goal: get out of the psychosis. It does so gradually. In 1991, declared invalid, it is taking steps to play the sickness insurance policies on his bank loan. In vain. The court accuses him of having “awakened a year too late.” Being unable to prove that he was “out of service” at the beginning of its financial problems. But luckily for him, there is the “local law”.

In 1995, Roger met people from Cresus. A few months later, a court finds insolvency. His debts, interests require, doubled meanwhile, are erased with a stroke. All his debts. Four million. His fellow diners did not return. Lyric, tell her about that day as a “light of day”. Where “everything changed.” Where life has taken a taste. Where suicidal impulses disappeared. Today handed Roger has one thing in mind: to work. Commercial agent, or something like that.

A commercial agent is already the profession Dimitri, 34. With his wife, Martine, 40, also knew this day of “rebirth” when the court declared them as “notorious insolvency”, after six years in the galleys. In turn, he reflected. In 1990, the couple set his heart on a house. A new, larger than the one he already has. To purchase, both take a bridge loan and sign a sales agreement. However. While they have to pay the second home, the realtor, who has committed to buying them first, never wanted to pay the promised money. A “rogue,” they say. And Martine Dimitri and may well have been successful twice in court, nothing worked. The proceedings lasted six years, “and that’s the reason for our debts: the slow pace of justice. Because, if time is money, in our case, it was truer. ”

Their rate of bridging loan: 14%. The “high rate short term”, which, over time, will become a chasm 900 000 F (500 000 loan 400 000 Interest). Until that day in June 1996 when a judge has removed all that “in three minutes flat.”
“Social sanction”. Yet, initially, Dimitri and Martine had been reluctant to the idea of going through this bankruptcy that sounded like a “social sanction”, “psychological defeat.” Their name, published in Latest news from Alsace to the “insolvency”, it does not tell them too much. Neighbors, entourage, all that “” was measured the pros and cons, they remember. And a week later, it was decided. “For civil bankruptcy, with happiness and relief, before “start” without debt, as before.

But still troubled. Why Has the court does not ask them if they were “in good or bad faith”? If “their debts were justified”? If so easy to erase their liabilities, they had really deserved? Around the table, heads say they admit. “For many, says the chairman of Croesus, civil bankruptcy is a very difficult decision.” It is even that honor, which would not abuse the guarantor that any specific law. Moreover, according to the association, only one case of recurrence would be known.