Bribery, graft, embezzlement, fraud, corruption, scandal, property boom, elites, property developers, corruption networks, planning, rubber stamps, backhanders, illegal building permits, cronies, bribes, mafia, money laundering, tax evasion, dirty money, property boom, sleaze
All words that have become part of the Irish way of doing things.
Judge, charged, prosecutions, jail, trail, investigation, arrest, police, seized
All words yet to become part of the Irish way of doing things.
All the words are from a report in today’s Irish Times on how a Spanish judge is cracking down on crime by the elite in society.
It is worth reading the entire article to hear the echo’s from Ireland. My favourite echo is a suspect €45,000 in cash seized by police but claimed by its possessor to be for daily household expenses.
Former Marbella mayors on fraud charges
Wed, Jul 25, 2007
A Spanish judge yesterday charged two former mayors of Marbella and 20 former town councillors with bribery, graft, embezzlement and fraud in connection with a corruption scandal linked to Spain’s property boom.
Eighty-six members of the Marbella elite, including lawyers, property developers and politicians, face prosecution.
The ringleader, according to Miguel Ángel Torres, a young judge in charge of the investigation, was Juan Antonio Roca, right-hand man of Jesús Gil, a notorious property developer, football club owner and mayor of Marbella, who ruled over the resort like a mafia boss between 1991 and 2002.
When Gil died in 2004, Mr. Roca became the “epicentre of a vast corruption network”, according to Mr. Torres’s report.
Mr. Roca, a former town planning commissioner, allegedly took backhanders from builders and bribed Marbella town councillors to rubber-stamp property developments, many in urban green zones.
Prosecutors estimate that more than one million illegal building permits were handled by Mr. Roca and his cronies. “Marbella’s town councillors were on Mr. Roca’s payroll. They were rewarded for their loyalty and subordination, rather than for each building licence they issued,” Mr. Torres wrote.
Mr. Roca paid for a facelift for Marisol Yagüe, a former mayor of Marbella now in jail awaiting trial. He also paid her €1.3 million in bribes and bought a flat for her son in Madrid, according to the judge’s report.
The judge, who is 36 and made his mark with Operation White Whale, a big money-laundering investigation in Málaga in 2005, spares no one in his latest investigation, codenamed Operation Malaya.
The judge let it be known he was preparing charges against more of Marbella’s beautiful people, including actor and singer Isabel Pantoja.
She was arrested briefly this year and is being investigated for suspected tax evasion and laundering money for her former boyfriend, Julián Muñóz, another Marbella mayor who has been jailed by Mr. Torres on corruption charges.
In January, police seized more than €45,000 in cash from Pantoja’s home, much of it in dollars and €500 notes. Pantoja denies handling any dirty money, saying the cash was for daily household expenses. She claimed she had been duped by her former boyfriend.
Mr. Torres’s year-long inquiry has given Spaniards a glimpse into the lives of those who have grown immensely rich from the country’s long property boom. Police seized thoroughbred horses, artworks and luxury cars from Mr. Roca’s home. In all, more than €2.4 billion in cash and assets has been seized.
The inquiry has also made the palm-lined city of Marbella a byword for corruption and sleaze. The city famous for its yacht harbour has been governed by a caretaker committee since most of the city council was arrested last year.
© 2007 Financial Times