Popular Party’s ‘corruption’

A FORMER senior official at Madrid’s regional government claims that its current premier, Cristina Cifuentes, and a predecessor, are involved in a corruption case affecting the governing Popular Party (PP).

Francisco Granados, once Secretary-General of the PP’s Madrid branch, said that both Cifuentes and Esperanza Aguirre, a veteran PP politician who headed the regional government from 2003 to 2012, played a role in what is alleged to be illegal party-funding by the Madrid PP.

The investigation into these parallel accounts is an offshoot of a larger nationwide corruption probe, code-named Púnica which has been under way for more than three years.

Granados and business partner David Marjaliza, a constructor and childhood friend, are considered the masterminds behind a bid-rigging scheme, which awarded at least 250m euros in public contracts throughout Madrid, Valencia, Murcia and León.

At Monday’s hearing inside Spain’s High Court (the Audiencia Nacional), Granados stated that the PP organised “a parallel support campaign” to help Aguirre win re-election in 2007 and 2011.

These parallel activities were not bankrolled with official funds, he said. Investigators believe that the Madrid PP handled 5m euros in hard-to-track funds during both campaigns.

It is the first time that Aguirre, who has since stepped back from the political frontline, has seen her name dragged into any of the corruption scandals affecting her party.

The other main case, known as Gürtel, is even bigger in scope, but it contains similar elements of bribery, rigged bids and illegal party-funding.

On Monday, Granados said that current Madrid premier Cristina Cifuentes was part of the “power structure” at the heart of the undercover campaigns, and that she had a “sentimental relationship” with her predecessor, Ignacio González, who was at the top of this power pyramid.

Soon after these statements were revealed, Cifuentes announced that she would take Granados to court for what she described as “a heap of falsehoods”, adding “I don’t care what this man says, he is a criminal.”

Cifuentes was elected to head the regional government in June 2015. Before that, she was part of the regional executive, from 2004 to 2008, and a deputy in the regional assembly until 2012.

Granados added that the opaque funds came mostly from phony advertising contracts for regional agencies, such as the water company Canal de Isabel II, the Madrid Tourism Consortium and the computer and communications company ICM.

The genesis of the Púnica case – the name is a reference to Granados, which means pomegranate trees in English, or Punica granatum in its Latin scientific name – is a tax investigation into Marjaliza and Granados’ Swiss bank accounts, the existence of which came to light in December 2013.

More than 90 people have so far been targeted by the Púnica investigation. Granados, who at various times in the past headed the Justice, Transportation and Internal Affairs Departments at the Madrid regional government, is involved in seven of the 16 separate investigations making up the case.

Granados, who was placed in pre-trial custody in October 2014, was released on bail in June of last year. In December, he received a two-year prison sentence in the only Púnica-related trial to have taken place so far.

Meanwhile his former associate, Marjaliza, has been co-operating with prosecutors as part of a plea bargain.



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Posted by on Feb 16 2018. Filed under Local News, News Alert. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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