Paul Getty's son files for bankruptcy in San Juan

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

SAN JUAN (Reuter) - The son of J Paul Getty, the American oil baron, has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in a federal court in San Juan, Puerto Rico, listing about dollars 43.2m in debts.

An interim trustee, Antonio Fiol-Matta, said he had not yet seen a list of J Ronald Getty's assets and was awaiting more information.

None of the 21 creditors in the filing, made to the court three weeks ago, was based in Puerto Rico.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy means total liquidation for the victim. The better-known Chapter 11 of the US bankruptcy code gives a debtor protection from creditors while a company undertakes a reorganisation of its financial affairs.

Mr Getty is the son of the oil billionaire JPaul Getty, who died in 1976. The younger Mr Getty fell out of favour with his father many years ago at the time of his parents' divorce.

His father left most of his huge estate to the JPaul Getty museum in southern California.

Mr Getty was not available for comment. His lawyer did not return repeated telephone calls.

In the filing, Mr Getty listed as his address an apartment in the prestigious seaside Isla Verde sector of San Juan.

However former associates in Los Angeles said he had lived in South Africa for several years. Former business associates said that he was somewhat reclusive. They had no idea how he spent his time.

US law allows a bankruptcy filing in the jurisdiction in which the debtor has spent most of the past six months.

Reginald Barney, a bankruptcy lawyer, told a local newspaper that there was 'nothing illegal, shady or sly' about Mr Getty filing in Puerto Rico, even though most of his creditors are based in the Los Angeles area.

But Mr Barney added: 'It makes things more difficult for the creditors.'