Typically Spanish: 03/07/06: Marbella Corruption ( next Valencia?)
Editorials Last Updated: Jul 3rd, 2006 - 09:13:36
Marbella corruption - the more we know...
Mon, 03 Jul 2006, 08:37
EDITORIAL COMMENT - Yet again events in Marbella have placed the town and the Costa del Sol at the top of national headlines, and again for all the wrong reasons. The second phase of the ‘Operación Malaya’ investigation into alleged real estate corruption in the town has resulted in a fresh 30 arrests, in addition to the 26 seen in April.
Once again many ex councillors have been sent directly to jail on remand, and this time so have real estate promoters and constructors, while others have been granted bail in amounts ranging from 30,000 to 500,000 €.
The El Pais newspaper has had access to and printed some of the judge’s conclusions so far, and importantly it seems that the ‘B’ or in this case ‘real’ accounting records have been deciphered by the brave instruction judge Miguel Angel Torres.
The routine method now discovered consisted in Constructors and Real Estate promoters who wanted to work in Marbella being obliged to pay a backhander, in three stages. Firstly on the submission of the plan, secondly when a building licence was granted, and thirdly when the project was completed.
These payments were allegedly handled in the offices of the Maras Asesores, by the company’s owner and the man, who no longer cannot be doubted to be at the centre of the affair, Juan Antonio Roca. It seems he kept 35% of such monies for himself, and then allegedly shared out envelopes with the rest to the Mayor and councillors, plus a few others including the Local Police Chief. In this way Roca kept a tight control on the entire process, and was able to promise to the builders that ‘no pasa nada’ nothing would happen should their development be denounced for one reason or another.
One of the builders associations claimed at the end of last week that they were the victims here, and were obliged to pay the extra commissions if they wanted to do any business in Marbella. If from the payment of the commissions onwards all the works carried out were legal, and met the restrictions of the urban plans in force, maybe that could have been believed. But that was not the case.
These payments made by the constructors ensured that they could build on green zones, build more than allowed in the urban plan, and be sure that if any order came against them from the Regional High Court of Justice in Seville, that it would be ignored on a local level. The builders were far from innocent in the way this was carried out. It was an all win situation, until now – and now it’s the instruction judge’s job to ensure that all those involved lose. "These payments made by the constructors ensured that they could build on green zones, build more than allowed in the urban plan, and be sure that if any order came against them from the Regional High Court of Justice in Seville, that it would be ignored on a local level"
Juan Antonio Roca has meanwhile amassed an incalculable fortune, and the justice system must ensure that at the end of the process he cannot simply use part of his fortune to pay a fine and vanish into the horizon. If found guilty, this man, used to the luxuries of life and spacious palaces, should be confined to the smallest of prison cells.
The second phase of the Operación Malaya has been possible thanks to the documents and computer records found by the judge in the first phase. It stands to reason that phase three is about to start, and indications are that Jesús Gil Marín, ex Mayor of Estepona and son of Jesús Gil y Gil, is the judge’s next target for investigation.
Shortly we will know whether it has been ‘like father like son’ and whether Estepona is the next town to be opened up by the judiciary.
All indications are that Marbella, while it may well be the largest such case of corruption, is certainly not the only one. Few people at a local level doubt that their local mayor benefits in some way from the power that he has.
What can now be expected would be that up and down the coasts of Spain many mayors and councillors have been busy using their paper shredding machines, and computer discs are likewise being erased. What can now be hoped for is that the Marbella case has been of such note and effect that any such deals, backhanders and commissions will not be paid in the future, and everyone will have to start following and respecting the law.