Spain's battle against the bad eggs
As former judge is jailed for bribery and extortion in the country's worst judicial scandal, Graham Keeley reports on what Spain is doing to prevent high-level political corruption.
Former judge Luis Pascual Estevill was jailed for nine years and fined EUR 1.8 million after being convicted of leading the largest corruption racket discovered in the Spanish judicial system in 25 years.
Estevill, a former judge in Barcelona and one-time member of the General Council of the Judiciary, was found to have accepted bribes and helped run an extortion racket between 1990 and 1994.
A former high-profile Catalan lawyer, Joan Piqué Vidal, was also sentenced to seven years imprisonment and fined EUR 900,000 in relation to the case.
According to the court ruling, Estevill and Piqué Vidal abused their positions to demand backhanders from businesses involved in lawsuits.
The extortion allowed them to accumulate hundreds of thousands of euros in bribes over the four-year period.
As part of the sentence, they have been ordered to compensate victims with amounts ranging between EUR 3,000 and EUR 90,000.
Several other people found guilty of participating in the scam, including Estevill's son, were fined and sentenced to up to one year in prison.
This is just the lastest in a long line of high-profile scandals in Spain.
Determined to put a stop to the rot, the Socialist government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has announced plans to introduce code of conduct in public life.
It will mean the crusty titles to which Spanish officialdom has been attached since the time of Don Quijote are to disappear under the rules of 'good governance'.
No longer will ministers and senior officials be addressed as 'exelencia', but as plain senor and senora.
The ethics code, which could be in place by the middle of next year, will aim at 'transparency and austerity' in public life.
Politicians and officials will be expected to hold only one job, rather than accumulating many positions, as some do at present.
And they will not be supposed to hold any outside position that limits their availability or dedication to their political work.
Politicians and senior officials will be expected to reveal their wealth and place their investments in a blind trust. They should accept only nominal gifts where courtesy demands it, and refrain from ostentatious or inappropriate behaviour.
The new code of conduct comes after Spaniards told an international poll on corruption that they believed their politicians were the most corrupt section in society.
To many an outsider, this might seem a predictable reaction; politicians are never the most popular characters in any society.
But a look at recent form would explain much - Spain has been dogged by scandals. Indeed, a series of high-level political scandals were what did for the last Socialist government of Felipe Gonzalez, who lost power in 1996.
Here we detail the major scandals of recent years.
The ex-secretary of state for security
Rafael Vera was finally jailed in October for seven years for paying out bonuses to personal contacts and stealing up to EUR 5 million in one of the biggest scandals of the Nineties. He still has the support of Gonzalez, who asked for him to be pardoned. It was originally claimed Vera was involved in the 'dirty war' against ETA in which a number of leading politicians became embroiled.
Ordered to pay back EUR 3,876,525, he has had had three houses and property seized but these do not cover this sum.
The Gescartera brokerage house collapsed and its main shareholder Antonio Camacho was jailed in 2001 after EUR 108 million of clients' money went missing. He used the money to pay for gifts and 'bought' jobs for staff at the Spanish stock market regulator and pocketed the rest. One junior minister was forced to resign. The affair exposed the 'old boy network' at the heart of the Spanish establishment.
Camacho, who reputedly had a collection of 100 Armani suits, paid a fine of EUR 300,000 by selling his mother's and brothers' flats and served just three years. But none of the EUR 108m has been paid back.
Luis Pasqual Estevill and lawyer Joan Pique Vidal carried out a campaign of extortion against leading companies, forcing them to pay EUR 150-300,000 or they would bring trumped-up charges against them. A leading figure in the right-leaning Catalan nationalist party, Estevill's fall has had political connotations.
Estevill was jailed for nine years, fined EUR 1.8m. He has already been convicted twice of perverting the course of justice and false imprisonment and was jailed in 2001 for seven years and ordered to pay EUR 601,000. All property seized but not all fines or compensation paid back.
The council chief/ football boss
Former mayor of Marbella, Jesus Gil and his successor Julian Munoz creamed off EUR 360 million over nine years from the council. Phantom companies charged the council EUR 30 million between 1991 and 1995. Gil, the one-time owner of Athletico Madrid FC whose nickname was 'Raging Bull', was said to have personally pocketed EUR 4.6 million, siphoning the cash into the football club. The case was Spain's worst example of municipal fraud.
Gil, jailed in 2000 for just six months for corruption, died this year. Munoz has been ordered to pay back EUR 24 million. So far all his financial assets have been seized but the cash is still outstanding.
Nicknamed 'The Shark', Mario Conde was chairman of Banesto bank. But in 1993, EUR 3.6 billion went missing. Eventually brought to trial in 2000, Conde was jailed for 10 years for embezzlement and fraud and ordered to pay back EUR 22.6 million. A symbol of the get-rich-quick 1980s Spain, the conviction of the suave Conde tarnished the government of former Socialist prime minister Felipe Gonzalez.
Allowed out of jail for daughter's wedding and his wife could see him inside for 'conjugal visits'. So far he has only paid back EUR 260,000, though he still owes houses valued at EUR 10.21 million. Paid off fines of EUR 3.6 million from separate case by giving up paintings by Picasso, Georges Braque and Juan Gris. Has brokered a deal whereby if he pays of EUR 22.6 million he will be out of jail by 2009.
This scandal epitomised the scandals which brought down the Gonzalez government. Ex-director of the Guardia Civil, Luis Roldan, used his job to pay bribes and defraud the state of EUR 60,000 each month. Roldan fled Spain after the corruption scandal broke in 1994, with allegations he was involved in pocketing secret funds earmarked for Spain's 'dirty war' against ETA in the 1980s in which 27 people were murdered by Spain's security forces. Roldan's easy escape forced the resignation of the then Interior Minister. Eventually captured, he claimed he took cash on the orders of government officials to fund the Socialist party.
Jailed in 1998 for 28 years for embezzlement, fraud and tax evasion, he was fined EUR 13.09 million. Prison sentence cut to 20 years. So far he has paid off just EUR 3.6 million and has an easy regime in prison.
updated January 2005
Money laundering judge in corruption case
De Urquía jailed seven prominent citizens and is now a suspect in another top profile Marbella scandal
Francisco Javier de Urquía was suspended from his duties at the head of Marbella’s Court Number 2 on Thursday last week by the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ). He is being investigated by the Andalusian High Court (TSJA) for alleged bribery and corruption as part of the Malaya case. Juan Antonio Roca, the alleged brains behind the Malaya corruption case and currently in prison, was called to make a statement to the court regarding investigations into Urquía’s life, after the deeds to the judge’s house were found among his papers.
De Urquía also appeared in court this week, though unlike other suspects in the Malaya case, he was not arrested and held overnight in a police cell before appearing - a formula which has become the trademark of the Malaya investigations and has even been used to question people who been offering voluntarily to make statements. This difference in treatment has led to criticism from the lawyers representing some of the other people involved in the case.
Sources maintain that the judge is suspected of accepting “certain payments to cover personal expenses” in exchange for making decisions in favour of certain people involved in the Marbella planning corruption case.
The TSJA enquiry was opened after Miguel ángel Torres, the judge in charge of the Malaya case, informed the High Court of the police investigation that connected his colleague with the Malaya suspects.
The suspended judge is best known for heading the “Hidalgo” investigation surrounding the money laundering ring allegedly run from the Cruz-Conde lawyers offices in Marbella. So far 24 people have been charged in the case, among them notaries, lawyers and their clients. However Francisco Javier de Urquía, like most other judges in Marbella, has also been in charge of planning cases involving the former mayors Julián Muñoz and Marisol Yagüe, and the alleged Malaya ringleader, Juan Antonio Roca, among others. He also dealt with the case in which a Local Police officer was charged with manslaughter for the death of a Belgian citizen in the town’s streets.
A judge with a social life and lots of friends
Until last week no one had any doubt about including Francisco Javier de Urquía in the group of judges in Marbella who are not “contaminated” by the GIL years. Relations have been described as “excellent” between the young judge and his colleague Miguel ángel Torres, whose investigations have led to De Urquía’s suspension. However unlike his colleague Torres, the 38-year-old is less concerned about keeping a low profile and is well known for his nights out in local bars and pubs, moving in wide social circles in the company of businessmen, lawyers, prosecutors and police officers. Neither is his interest in the film world a secret. De Urquía is married, although his wife does not live in Marbella, and has recently been the father of a baby girl.
© Copyright Diario SUR Digital, S. L.
Costa del Sol
Dozens of judges and other officials accepted gifts from real estate developer based on the Costa del Sol
Jul 11, 2007 - 6:12 PM
The revelations come in the documents from the case summary of the Malaya corruption case, now released by the Instruction Judge in Marbella
New revelations from the Malaya corruption case based in Marbella, and how the Aifos real estate company was allegedly involved.
According to the court summary now released to the media by the Instruction Judge in the case, Miguel Ángel Torres, a police report found in the computer files removed from the Aifos company show how they offered free gifts to a whole host of local officials.
These gifts consisted of free stays in five star hotels as well as other health and beauty services and such ‘regalos’ were given to judges, notaries, property registrars, and other administrators and civil servants.
The gifts travelled far and wide across the provinces of Málaga, Almería, Jaén, Granada and Alicante and as far as Madrid.
"The gifts were designed to create favourable conditions for their business interests"
Magistrates from the Andalucian High Court of Justice are also allegedly implicated by the documents found in police raids carried out over the Christmas 2004 period.
A dozen people linked to Mijas Town Hall are also implicated, five more from Estepona Town Hall and one from Rincón de la Victoria Town Hall.
The police report claims that the gifts and invitations made to these officials by Aifos were designed to create ‘favourable conditions for their business interests’.
The Prosecutor’s Office has proposed that this investigation be carried out as a separate piece from the main Malaya case.
© Copyright 2007 by typicallyspanish.com
Marbella's disgraced Mayor Marisol Yagüe
Marbella awaits new elections after most
local politicians are accused of corruption
By Daniel González Herrera, Spain Editor
16 November 2006: The sleaze scandal, which hit the southern Spanish resort city Marbella in spring 2006, soon proved to be only the tip of a massive corruption iceberg. During the spring operation, codenamed Operation Malaya, the police arrested the city’s mayor and deputy mayor amid allegations of money laundering, property development offences, including building on land protected from development, manipulation of public tenders, the acceptance of bribes as well as schemes to alter the price of municipal services.
During a second investigation, ‘Operation Malaya 2’ new offences came to light, resulting in some 30 city councillors and business people being accused of massive corruption. These accusations were in addition to the arrests made earlier in the year. Then. 29 people were arrested, including Mayor Marisol Yagüe, her deputy, Isabel García Marcos and José Antonio Roca, who was town planning advisor. During the investigation, Judge Miguel Ángel Torres said of Mr Roca that he was the driving force in Marbella City Hall and that the Mayor performed a mere symbolic role. In September 2006, the former mayor and her deputy were released from custody on 60,000-euro bail.
Those arrested as part of ‘Malaya 2’ included the former chief of Marbella’s police Rafael del Pozo and Tomás Reñones, the city’s second deputy mayor. Mr Reñones became acting mayor after the arrest of the mayor and the first deputy mayor. However, his involvement in the scandals became clear during the following-up investigations and Judge Torres ordered his unconditional detention. Tomás Reñones was football player and captain of Atlético de Madrid, the football club owned by the late Jesús Gil, the first of the big corrupted mayors of Marbella and founder of GIL, the political party whose members included the disgraced mayor Marisol Yagüe.
Also arrested during this summer was Julián Muñoz,, another former mayor of Marbella, on charges of bribery and misappropriation of public funds. Mr Muñoz, also a member of the GIL party, became mayor in 2002. During his short term of office he fell publicly out with the all-powerful town planner José Antonio Roca. Mr Roca was dismissed only to organise a ‘coup’ one month later, which resulted in Mayor Muñoz being expelled from City Hall on a vote of censure.
In the latest move in Operation Malaya on 14 November 2006, Mayte Zaldívar, ex-wife of the former mayor of Marbella Julián Muñoz, was detained in her home. She is accused of having helped her former husband to hide the money that he supposedly misappropriated from Marbella City Council. She is not the only one arrested: her brother, five businessmen, a judicial employee and the director of a bank branch are also being detained.
Today, until the forthcoming local elections in May 2007, Marbella is governed by an administrative commission appointed by Malaga’s provincial government.
Marbella: Corruption, sleazy politics
and shady real estate developments
5 April 2006: The southern Spanish city of Marbella, often described as the tourist jewel of Andalusia, is again in the centre of a political scandal, with the mayor and deputy mayor having been arrested amid allegations of bribery and corruption. Since the late Jesús Gil became its mayor in 1991, the city has gained a reputation for corruption, sleazy politics and dubious real estate developments.
The latest scandal has its origin in Operation White Whale (Operación Ballena Blanca). In March 2005, Spain’s national police force set out to put an end to the laundering of profits made from drug trafficking. The examining magistrate, overseeing the operation, allowed phone tapping of some of the suspects. During the recordings, the investigators intercepted another possible case of money laundering, this time related to Marbella City Hall. Judge Miguel Ángel Torres consequently ordered a parallel investigation into possible cases of corruption and bribery.
This investigation, codenamed ‘Operation Malaya’, was overseen by court authorities in Marbella and the public prosecutor’s office against corruption. Investigators soon discovered a structure of companies, which were in a position to carry out illegal activities with potentially million-euro profits. On 29 March 2006, some 150 police officers carried out searches in Marbella City Hall and other municipal offices. Searches were also carried out at the home of Marbella Mayor Marisol Yagüe as well as at addresses in other Spanish cities.
As part of the operation the police froze more than 1,000 bank accounts and seized a large number of valuables among them paintings by Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso as well as luxury cars. The police also took over several large houses, including a small palace in Madrid. The investigators are now examining huge quantities of paper and computer-based records to gain an idea about the spread of the alleged corruption plot. By 31 March, some 21 arrests had been made, including those of the Marbella Mayor Marisol Yagüe and her deputy Isabel García Marco, who had just returned from a honeymoon in Russia. A spokesman for the Andalusia regional government said that more arrests were possible.
The individuals arrested by the police are being investigated of alleged criminal activities such as money laundering, property development offences, including building on land protected from development, manipulation of public tenders, the acceptance of bribes as well as schemes to alter the price of municipal services. Any profits from these activities, which could run into millions of euros, are suspected to be laundered by shady companies, which are often headed by front men to give them some respectability.
Because of the frequency of property development scandals in Marbella, the regional government of Andalusia has stripped the city of its jurisdiction over building projects.
The most prominent person to be arrested in Marbella’s latest scandal is Mayor Marisol Yagüe. A member of the Independent Liberal Group (GIL), she is the first woman to lead the city and heads a coalition administration made up of the PSOE (Socialist Party of Spain), PP (People’s Party) and the regional Pro-Andalusia Party. She took over the post of Mayor in August 2003 after her predecessor, Julián Muñoz (GIL), was censured by the city council. GIL was founded by the late Jesús Gil.
Between 1991 and 2002, GIL had the absolute majority on the city council. In 2002, Mr Gil resigned after numerous financial and influence peddling scandals. Shortly before his resignation Spain’s Supreme Court issued a judgment, barring him from carrying out any public office for 28 years. He was accused of diverting more than 270,000 euro of public funds, belonging to Marbella, to Atlético de Madrid, a football club he managed. Jesús Gil died in Madrid on 14 May 2004.
Jesús Gil was succeeded by Julián Muñoz, whose time in office only lasted a little more than one year. Even a change of mayor did not bring an end to the string of property development scandals. The new mayor was also constantly in the media spotlight because of his association with the Spanish singer Isabel Pantoja. In March 2005, a court in Malaga sentenced Mr Muñoz to six months in prison and barred him from holding a public office for eight years because he allowed illegal building in Banana Beach, an area of Marbella.
In August 2003, Marisol Yagüe became Mayor of Marbella, after councillors from the PSOE and the Pro-Andalusia Party succeeded in a censure vote against Julián Muñoz. The vote was also supported by some members of GIL, who felt more loyal to the party founder than the then mayor.
Marisol Yagüe, who was being described as a populist, was the chosen successor of the disgraced GIL founder Jesús Gil. After her election, she became quickly accused of distancing herself from the people. Visitors had to wait for hours before being allowed into the mayor’s office. She also attracted unfavourable publicity for extended and luxurious holidays.
Mayor Yagüe also became involved in a dispute with a building company working on her own house in an up-market development of Marbella. The company accused her of non-payment of one million euro. The company owner also alleged that Ms Yagüe tried to pay him out of public funds and that the Mayor suggested the use of municipal construction material for her private residence.
Attention of the current investigation is also again focusing on Juan Antonio Roca, advisor on urban development to the city council. It has been said that Mr Roca pulls all the string in Marbella and is the real power in the city after the death of Jesús Gil. Apparently, no major business deal can be done in Marbella without his approval. It has also been suggested that he profits from many such deals. The fortune he amassed during the past 15 years, is said to be one of the largest in Andalusia. Nevertheless, Mr Roca came through the investigation unscathed after Jesús Gil’s fall from grace.
Mayor Gil’s successor, Julián Muñoz, dismissed Juan Roca, believing that he had been too closely linked to too many property scandals. Politically, however, this proved to be a bad mistake. Soon after his dismissal, Juan Roca became the driving force behind the censure vote against the mayor and within two months Marisol Yagüe replaced Julián Muñoz as city leader.
In a sign that the people of Marbella had finally enough of their local politicians, citizens groups, supported by the main political parties, staged a large demonstration on 30 March 2006. It’s motto: ‘For our dignity – against corruption’.
Flamboyant: Jesus Gil y Gil who was convicted of corruption
Marbella: How Spain's jewel lost its shine
Once the playground of the rich and famous, Marbella appears to be plunging into the mire of corruption. We report on the background to the current civic graft scandal.
Marbella was always one of Spain's Mediterranean jewels.
Known for being the Costa del Sol enclave preferred by aristocrats, Arab princes, actors and singers, it numbers among its residents Antonio Banderas, Bruce Willis and Julio Iglesias.
The city, which has a population of 124,000, enjoys a beautiful spring micro-climate all year round and, like Los Angeles, Marbella also has a Hollywood Boulevard of sorts - known as the Boulevard of Fame - where well-known personalities can leave their handprints and signatures in concrete.
But despite the glitz and glamour, the resort city has seen its reputation nosedive with a flood of recent corruption cases.
Anyone with concerns about property in Spain can contact us at propertyscam
In recent years it has acquired a reputation as a beach haven for gangsters of various nationalities.
It has taken another blow with the arrest of its mayor and other officials in a multi-million euro corruption scandal.
Part of the reason is that Marbella became a prime site for property speculation over the past 15 years.
Disgraced: Marisol Yague is latest Marbella mayor to be arrested
Uncontrolled housing construction has resulted in more than 20,000 homes being built illegally which are now awaiting a court order to be demolished.
The latest case unfolded with a huge police raid on city hall and other municipal agencies, designed to break up a massive and elaborate local government network engaged in embezzling EUR 2.4 billion in public funds.
Those arrested were accused of bribery, influence-peddling and price-fixing.
More than 1,000 bank accounts have been frozen and 21 people have been arrested, including Mayor Marisol Yague and city planner, Juan Antonio Roca, who is known to be one of the Costa del Sol's richest men.
Miro paintings, a helicopter, a fleet of luxury cars, bundles of cash totalling EUR 300,000 and thoroughbred horses have all been seized by police who say they were perks which corrupt public servants received in the scam.
It is no accident that the judge who ordered the police raids is also the magistrate leading Operation White Whale.
Known for being the Costa del Sol enclave preferred by aristocrats, Arab princes, actors and singers, it numbers among its residents Antonio Banderas, Bruce Willis and Julio Iglesias
This operation, launched last year, targeted a EUR 250 million money laundering scam to hide the profits of drug trafficking profits.
Fifty people were arrested, among them Chilean attorney Fernando del Valle.
Operating through the Marbella lawyers office headed by Del Valle were a tangled web of corporations with links in several countries that focus on investing along the Costa del Sol.
For some time, Spanish authorities have been investigating the connections formed amid the rampant urban development and links to organized crime groups in the area.
The authorities and experts have noted that the Costa del Sol around Marbella is a favourite spot for members of Sicilian crime families - as well as Russian and other Slavic organized crime groups - to set up operations.
Bienvenidos a Marbella: The resort's famous Golden Mile
Of the latest arrests are not the first time that shenanigans in local property speculation have landed municipal officials behind bars.
Two previous mayors - Julian Muñoz and Jesus Gil y Gil, the latter of whom died in 2004 - have also spent time in jail.
It was property tycoon Gil who, as mayor from 1991-2002, managed to turn Marbella into one of the most popular locations in Spain, in particular because he worked hard to clean up the city and improve security there.
The city got a facelift during those years, but uncontrolled urban development led to many complaints against this larger than life figure.
Gil, former owner of Atletico Madrid football club, was pardoned by dictator Francisco Franco in 1971 after 58 people died when a restaurant built by him collapsed.
He was later barred from holding public office for 11 years after his conviction for diverting EUR 24 million from municipal coffers.
Flamboyant: Jesus Gil y Gil who was convicted of corruption
Muñoz, who succeeded Gil as mayor, made regular appearances in Spain's prensa rosa or tabloids, due to his relationship with Spanish singer Isabel Pantoja.
He was found guilty of corruption and had to leave office in n August 2003, after a vote of no-confidence from the city council shortly after he expressed his intention to fire then-city planner Juan Antonio Roca, who is currently under arrest and accused of being a key figure in the current corruption conspiracy.
Yague, who claims she is innocent of all allegations of corruption levelled by the current inquiry, then succeeded Muñoz.
The history of politics in Marbella is also one of political turncoats.
Miro paintings, a helicopter, a fleet of luxury cars, bundles of cash totalling EUR 300,000 and thoroughbred horses have all been seized by police who say they were perks for corrupt public servants
Yague - currently a member of the political party created by Gil - started her political career in the Socialist Party, just like Isabel Garcia Marcos, the mayor's key lieutenant who was arrested after returning from her honeymoon in Russia.
With the upper echelon of the city hall in jail, and in the face of the public's demands for local elections, the man now in charge of Marbella council is Tomas Reñones, a former Atletico player who was also brought to the resort city by Gil.
Constructor Crist�bal Pe�arroya who was granted 30,000 � bail by Judge Torres - Photo EFE
Phase Two of Operación Malaya completed in Marbella
By h.b. - Jul 2, 2006 - 7:18 PM
The 30 people arrested last Tuesday have now all appeared before the Instruction Judge in Marbella, Miguel Angel Torres
The El Pais newspaper has printed part of the court summary of the statement made by an unnamed but repentant Marbella Town Hall Councillor to the instruction judge Torres in the Malaya corruption case. In it the councillor confesses to payments made in the years 2004 – 2006 and shared out between the councillors by the man alleged to be at the centre of the affair, the municipal real estate assessor Juan Antonio Roca. The councillor says that he or she has been paid 200,000 € in such payments and that when a real estate developer made a payment Roca shared out envelopes among the different councillors, with the Mayor and deputies getting most of the monies, while other councillors collected smaller amounts, such as 6,000 €. In this way Juan Antonio Roca considered that his position was secured.
Of the 14 councillors who signed the motion of no confidence in the Mayor Julian Muñoz in Marbella in 2003, a motion organised by Juan Antonio Roca, 12 have now been arrested. Only Pedro Pérez from the Partido Andalucista remains uncharged, while Carlos Fernández is now the subject of an arrest warrant. His whereabouts remain unknown.
Judge Torres is clear that Roca had complete control of the money, and used the Marbella Town Hall as one of his business interests, which gave him political power to obtain incomes from his dealings with businessmen, and for which he paid a series of costs to the councillors and others. The judge describes Roca as the Mayor in the shadows, who ran the town hall from his office in the planning department despite not being elected by anyone.
Much of the money raised was sent on by Roca to other companies controlled by his front men.
El Pais says that the real accounting which has been uncovered by the judge shows that the councillors in the town hall received between them four million € over just two years – in 2004 and 2005. All the money was collected in and paid out by Maras Asesores, a company owned by Roca and where he kept an office.
The list show 16 councillors and 11 businessmen implicated in the case. The list of businessmen is as follows:
Rafael Gómez Sanchez – Constructor – Arenal 2000
Emilio Rodríguez Bugallo – Constructor – Construcciones Salamanca
Carlos Sánchez Hernández – Real Estate – CCF
Gonzalo Fernández Castaño – Real Estate – GFC
Fidel San Román – Constructor
Cristóbal Peñarroya Sánchez – Real Estate
Enrique Ventero Terleira – Real Estate
Francisco García Lebrón – Real Estate – Aifos
Francisco Aranda Núñez – Real Estate
José Avila Rojas – Constructor
Tomas Olivo López – Owner of La Cañada shopping centre.
The investigating judge believes that the real estate development seen in Marbella has generated 12 billion € over the past 15 years. Juan Atontio Roca received all the backhander monies paid by the businessmen and is thought to have kept 35% of it for himself.
The rest was shared amongst the councillors to ensure that Roca could promise the businessmen guarantees that the Town Hall would not follow up any denuncias made against their developments. The judge believes in most cases backhanders ensured that town planning and other regulations were in effect ignored.
"the Marbella Town Hall councillors in the town hall received between them four million € over just two years"
The businessmen paid their backhanders in three payments – Firstly when the plan was placed, second when the licence to build was grated and thirdly when the project was completed.
A total of 78 illegal developments were started between April 2003 and February 2005 according to the documents now in the hands of the courts. In most cases the Marbella Local Police did nothing to tape up and close the buildings. Involved in this period alone are 7,343 homes, a hotel, three commercial centres and an office block.
Meanwhile on Friday, Judge Miguel Ángel Torres granted bail to the first five of the 13 businessmen who were arrested in the second phase of Operación Malaya.
Constructor Enrique Ventero had bail set at 300,000 €, and Cristóbal Peñarroya at 30,000 €. Both of them are accused of bribery.
Released without bail but still charged with bribery is Francisco Aranda, and the alleged frontmen for Roca, the brothers Ignacio and Manuel Ignacio Gutiérrez Sánchez-Dalp who are faced with money laundering charges.
On Saturday the judge released another builder, although Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño still faces bribery charges. He was arrested in Madrid last Tuesday.
Builder and the owner of the Las Ventas Madrid bull ring, Fidel San Román, was ordered to prison without bail on Saturday.
Córdoba real estate promoter, Rafael Gómez, was granted 300,000 € bail as was another builder Enrique Ventero.
The Commerical Director of Aifos, Francisco García Lebrón, was initially sent to prison without bail, but granted 30,000 € bail after a second statement.
Gonzalo Fernández was released but still faces bribery charges.
The constructors José Avila Rojas and Emilio Miguel Rodriguez Bugallo, both had to find 500,000 € bail on Saturday night.
Tomas Olivo, the owner of the La Cañada commercial centre was granted 500,000 € bail. He arrived with his friend Juan Antonio Roca together in 1991.
Phase two of the Operación Malaya is now completed, but all the indications are that phase three is now about to get underway.
As part of the next phase Judge Torres is reported to be investigating Jesús Gil Marín, Jesús Gil y Gil’s son and ex Mayor of Estepona.
Also reportedly under investigation is José María el Nido, lawyer for the Julián Muñoz and the Marbella Town hall and the President of the Seville Football Club.
The President of the Junta de Andalucía, Manuel Chaves, has said that the regional and central governments are holding contracts to solve the debt in Marbella Town Hall. Among the urgent debts faced by the town administration are debts to Social Security and wages for council employees. The total debt is now put at more than 300 million €.
The President of the Marbella Management Committee, Diego Martín Reyes, has announced that he has decided to dedicate himself full-time to the post and will therefore be giving up his work as a lawyer. The decision comes after an incompatibility commission drew attention to his case.
National Police guard the doors of the main offices of the Aifos Real Estate company in M�laga - Photo EFE
The President of the Aifos, the third largest real estate company in the province of Málaga, Jesús Ruiz Casado, has managed to reach an out of court settlement in one of the court cases open against his company. The day before the court was to rule on the charge of fraud placed against him by the British company Ocean View, the latter has withdrawn the complaint. Ocean View had claimed that Aifos was selling off-plan flats without a licence to build, or in some cases without owning the land concerned. Under the out of court settlement, Aifos will supply Ocean View with enough properties to cover the demands of their clients so they have their investments guaranteed. The commercial director of Aifos, Francisco García, was among those arrested last Tuesday in the second phase of the Málaya case in Marbella, and the company’s main offices in Calle Cister in Málaga were searched by police on Friday.
© Copyright 2006 by typicallyspanish.com
Chief of police charged in Marbella scandal
Mariano Rajoy, the president of the conservative Partido Popular, pictured right, has arrived in the troubled city of Marbella, reeling under a multi-milllion euro corruption scandal. Yesterday the chief of the local police, Rafael del Pozo, was charged following a five-hour interview with a judge. The charges are not clear, but after dealing with the formalities in respect of the 20,000 euro bail for his client, Pozo’s lawyer claimed that there were no accusations of bibery nor misappropriation of public funds.
In an unprecedented move the Spanish parliament has voted unanimously in Senate to dissolve Marbella council to deal with the still unfolding corruptions scandal that has seen 23 arrests so far.
Also before the court yesterday was Torremolinos businessman Rafael Llopis who is alleged to have paid money to obtain advertising contracts. He was detained without bail bringing the total number in custody to 12.
The house of the man alleged to be at the centre of the Marbella corruption, Juan Antonio Roca, has been shown in a video released by the Ministry of the Interior shot inside one of his properties. It shows many animal heads hanging as hunting trophies and stuffed examples of exotic animals he has killed –including a giraffe. A Miró original painting hangs in one of the bathrooms.
Meanwhile Marbella’s Deputy Mayor, Isabel García Marcos has presented an appeal against her remand without bail. She claims Judge Torres is acting beyond his jurisdiction in the case.
The Partido Popular are continuing to demand immediate elections and today Mariano Rajoy, the leader of the opposition will be in Marbella to give that message.
Rajoy considers it should be the State and not the regional government who take over the responsibility of town planning in Marbella.
Today also sees the decision of the Consejo de Estado, as to whether there is enough time for elections to be held now or when they are already scheduled for May next year.
MARBELLA SCANDAL TIMELINE
Rajoy to support push for early election
Tuesday, April 4, 2006
Marbella judge, Miguel Angel Torres, heard evidence from six lawyers from the Madrid firm Sanchez Zubizarreta and Soriano, after all six were driven to the court in a police van. They are all accused of being involved in an enormous money laundering scandal, and four of them were sent to jail.
Previously, Judge Torres has jailed six people that he found were involved in the scandal: former mayoress Marisol Yague; deputy mayoress Isabel Garcia Marcos; the head of the Urbanisation department and the alleged head of the corruption ring, Juan Antonio Roca; the Marbella councillor for Traffic and Transport Victoriano Rodriguez; businessmen Ismael Perez and Oscar Benavente and Montserrat Corulla, whom Judge Torres accused of being one of the main figureheads in the money laundering operation.
In another development, it has been revealed that the wife of Marbella police superintendent Rafael del Pozo worked for a company affiliated with the town hall and made 4,000 Euros a month. Superintendent Del Pozo himself is expected to appear before judge Miguel Angel Torres to answer charges of obstructing justice and obeying orders from jailed councillor, Juan Antonio Roca.
Meanwhile, Mariano Rajoy, the president of the conservative Partido Popular, has decided to travel to Marbella on Thursday as a gesture of support for his party's candidate in the Marbella elections, Angeles Muñoz, whom he described as "the only person not in jail or threatened with it."
President Zapatero's cabinet is set to meet in Madrid tonight with one item on the agenda: Marbella.
PP pushes for early Marbella council elections
Monday, April 3, 2006
Marbella judge Miguel Angel Torres yesterday decided that deputy mayoress Isabel Garcia Marcos should go to prison for her part in the Marbella corruption scandal. She will now join former mayoress Marisol Yague in Alhaurin de la Torre jail. In addition, thus far judge Torres has jailed Juan Antonio Roca, the head of the council town planning department, Victoriano Rodriguez, the 70 year old former member of the GIL party, who was responsible for traffic control in Marbella town hall and Ismael Perez, the Madrid based owner of a vehicle leasing company. Today, he is expected to hear testimony from Jose Jaen, the Culture councillor and businessman, Jamie Hachuel.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that Manuel Chaves, the regional president of Andalucía, is prepared to dissolve Marbella town council and appoint an administrator. However, apparently, he is not prepared to call elections, as the latest polls show that the Partido Popular would win hands down, and this is something that his party wants to avoid at any cost. The PP, however, believes that even more unease amongst the people of Marbella would be if an administrator is appointed until the next elections in 2007, and this view is born out by Pio Garcia-Escudero, the PP spokesman in the Senate in Madrid, as it is the Senate that will have the task of legally dismissing the council. Mr. Garcia-Escudero expressed the belief that elections could take place in Marbella on May 27.
Fourth man jailed in Marbella corruption scandal
Sunday, April 2, 2006
Marbella Judge Miguel Angel Torres yesterday sent Victoriano Rodriguez, the former Traffic councillor of Marbella to jail after hearing testimony from him for over three hours. He is the fourth person jailed following Mayoress Marisol Yague, Urbanizing councilor Juan Antonio Roca and a Madrid businessman.
However Judge Torres freed Town Secretary Leopoldo Barrantes and the director of a transport company, but imposed bail of 20,000 and 12,000 Euros on two businessmen detained in Marbella.
Meanwhile, acting mayor Tomas Riñones stated that things must continue in the town hall in order to avoid a power vacuum.
Two jailed in Marbella corruption scandal
Saturday, April 1, 2006
A Marbella judge has jailed Juan Antonio Roca (second photo, centre), an adviser to and former head of the Urbanisation department of Marbella town hall to jail, after he had read a statement to the court. He is the main person accused of money laundering in a huge operation that covered a lot of Andalucia as well as Madrid, as police revealed yesterday that they had more evidence as a result of the wiretaps they had carried out during the investigation.
In addition, Judge Miguel Angel Torres has ordered that Marbella mayoress Marisol Yague (fourth photo) be sent to prison as well.
It was also revealed that a large part of the cash confiscated by the police was found in a bag that the deputy mayoress of Marbella Isabel Garcia Marcos kept in her home.
As the first part of the operation ended, police revealed that in addition to 830,000 Euros in cash, they had confiscated 275 works of art, 103 horses, 14 cars, 24 historical weapons, five kilos of jewellery and a helicopter in addition to the five vanloads of documents that will be used in the case.
Meanwhile, politically, the Marbella case has landed like a hot potato in the lap of the Andalucia president Manuel Chaves, who has been accused of knowing that a huge mafia-like network of corruption was operating in the region, yet did nothing about it.
Further arrests in Marbella town hall corruption scandal
Friday, March 31, 2006
It has been revealed that police have thus far detained 23 people allegedly involved in urban development corruption in Marbella, with the latest detention of a lawyer made in Madrid last night. Equally, an incredible amount of material has been confiscated as well as bank accounts containing 2,400 million Euros.
The police operation took place in Marbella, Malaga, Madrid, Murcia, Cadiz and Huelva, and amongst the items confiscated are 275 works of art including eight paintings by Joan Miro and other works by artists of "immense prestige" that are currently being assessed and valued by experts from the Spanish Patrimony Directive.
Also confiscated were: three cases of jewellery, weighing approximately five kilos; 465,000 Euros in cash; 103 horses valued at more than three million Euros; a helicopter, and fourteen cars.
In Murcia, police have detained one person and collected evidence from various houses, one of which was set inside an estate of 100 hectares that has an orange grove, heliport, three industrial warehouses and a small palace of a house, inside which police discovered a gold mine of objects whose value is difficult to calculate. These include old cameras, a large number of jewels, a golden chalice, a highly valued old sextant, three old Mercedes cars in perfect working order as well as a perfectly working ancient bus.
The third photo shows a march organised by around twenty local residents' associations demanding the resignation of the entire Marbella town council, an initiative which is being supported by a number of prominent political parties and trade unions.
Marbella mayoress arrested on corruption charges
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
The mayoress of Marbella, Marisol Yague, and eighteen others have been arrested in a National Police investigation into a number alleged cases of corruption, abuse of power, price-fixing and extorsion of public funds.
Marbella town hall was evacuated at 9.30am this morning except for the head of Information Systems and municipal secretary, Leopoldo Barrantes, who is helping the officers with their investigation.
Also searched this morning was the home of the mayoress, and a number of other municipal offices, including the Urban Planning office, the head of which, Juan Antonio Roca, has also been detained.
A number of properties in Madrid -where six people have been arrested- and Murcia, have also been searched and further arrests are not ruled out.
Tuesday, April 4, 2006