The decision of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office to request the file of the open case against the former presidents of the Community of Madrid Esperanza Aguirre and Ignacio González for the alleged box b of the regional PP investigated in the punic case it diverts the focus towards the five people from the closest circle of both former regional leaders for whom it has requested prosecution. Thus, together with Francisco Granados and Beltrán Gutiérrez, two men of the highest confidence of Aguirre who respectively held the positions of secretary general and manager of the popular Madrid, Anticorruption has asked to try the former directors Salvador Victoria and Borja Sarasola, and Isabel Gallego, former press officer of the former presidents of Madrid. The decision that finally these five secondary actors become the main defendants for the alleged irregular financing of the popular is in the hands of Judge Manuel García-Castellón, instructor of this macro-cause of corruption.
In its report, the Prosecutor’s Office concludes that the investigation has not proven Aguirre’s involvement in the “irregularities” of the Madrid PP when she led the party and was the regional president. In the case of her successor in office, the document believes that she could have committed them to finance the electoral campaign for the regional and municipal elections of 2007, but that, due to the time that has elapsed, the possible crimes committed would be prescribed. González, however, has a long judicial journey ahead of him in another corruption case, the Lezo case. After refusing to sit both former presidents on the bench, Anticorruption focuses on Granados, alleged ringleader of the plot and whose accounts in Switzerland allowed the investigations that led to the punic case. Firmly sentenced to two years in prison in one of the pieces of the summary, he still has to face serious accusations in others in which the macro-cause is divided. In one, the one related to the alleged manipulation of public contracts to celebrate celebrations in municipalities governed by the PP, he faces a six-year petition for two crimes of contracting fraud. In the case of box b, the Prosecutor’s Office plans to try him for an electoral crime, another for bribery and a third for influence peddling.
Anticorruption points to Granados in its extensive report as the key person in the alleged financing scheme through which the PP’s “main irregular source of fundraising” was channeled: the alleged cash donations made by businessmen. “Once delivered, he himself [Granados] he recorded the payments in a handwritten form in a black notebook, after which, he deducted from the amounts an amount that he withheld for himself or for third parties outside the party, and the rest he sent to the manager of the Popular Party [Beltrán Gutiérrez]”, describes the document in which it is noted that, in 2007 alone, the popular received more than one million euros through this system. It was, precisely, the discovery of that black notebook -and the collaboration of the builder David Marjaliza to unravel the meaning of the initials and figures that appeared- that allowed the investigations to be started on box b.
For the Prosecutor’s Office, however, this is only one of the legs of the alleged involvement of Granados in the financing plot of his party. He also considers that the former minister was the “key” person who introduced computer expert Alejandro de Pedro to the Madrid PP so that he could do internet reputation work for party positions that were paid illegally with public funds. These jobs consisted of flooding the network with positive news about the personality through false profiles on social networks and digital newspapers. zombies to move negative information from the top of search engines and thus prevent it from being easily accessed. “In such a context there are indications that, as ‘payment’ for such aid [para introducirle en el PP de Madrid] Alejandro de Pedro later carried out works for the same [Granados] free of charge,” he adds.
Regarding Beltrán Gutiérrez, Anticorruption highlights that in the search of his home, a flash drive which contained relevant data on the alleged irregularities committed by the party in the payment of “expenses derived from what is called the electoral pre-campaign of the PP in Madrid in 2011 and the electoral campaign of that same year [que permitieron ganar a Aguirre de nuevo por mayoría absoluta]”, the only ones that the Prosecutor’s Office considers can be tried, since it concludes that the crimes that would have been perpetrated in the 2007 and 2008 elections would be prescribed. Anticorruption believes that Beltrán, whose relationship of “full trust” with Aguirre stands out, knew that the PP had exceeded the maximum legal expense and that, despite this, he presented an allegedly falsified accounting before the Chamber of Accounts. In his case, he plans to prosecute him for a single crime, that of electoral fraud.
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Anti-corruption also accuses Borja Sarasola of alleged irregularities in that electoral campaign, who since 2008 held positions of responsibility in the Madrid PP and, later, in the regional government, where he was Aguirre’s chief of staff and, later, adviser with González. The Prosecutor’s Office highlights that during the 2011 campaign, the former counselor held the position of “responsible for territorial mobilization” of the PP and that, as such, he held various meetings with those responsible for El Laboratorio de Almagro, one of the companies allegedly involved. The investigation indicates that the Government of Aguirre awarded this company – in some cases with the alleged direct intervention of the counselor – public contracts that hid the payment of part of the work for the party. The report also points out Sarasola for alleged irregularities in the payment of work to improve the image of PP leaders on the internet. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, there are indications that he had knowledge “of the work [de reputación online] commissioned for both Esperanza Aguirre and Ignacio González, of which he was aware and gave his approval, as well as for himself”. For all this, he proposes to judge him for continued prevarication, influence peddling and embezzlement.
These works of reputation are the ones that splash the former director Salvador Victoria, who was a trusted person of Ignacio González. Anti-corruption highlights the crossing of telephone calls that Victoria had with De Pedro when he already had the telephone seized by court order. From the content of these conversations, the report concludes that the then director presumably managed the irregular payments through two public bodies in which he held management positions – the IT agency of the Community of Madrid, ICM, and Canal de Isabel II ― and the company Indra, contractor of the regional executive. For all these reasons, the Prosecutor’s Office considers that “there are reasonable indications to affirm that [Victoria] He was knowledgeable, beneficiary, promoter and solver” of this activity of the plot, for which he proposes to judge him for bribery and prevarication.
The fifth character mentioned is Isabel Gallego, who was the general director of Media Communication of the regional government. The Prosecutor’s Office considers that there is “direct evidence and indications” that it was “perfectly aware that the work to improve the reputation on the Internet for high-ranking officials of the Community of Madrid was carried out without the existence of a formal contract” and that “the method of payment was concealed through both fictitious contracting and demanding companies that were awarded public contracts by the Community of Madrid to ‘collaborate’ by paying expenses”. The report is based on the exchange of emails and telephone calls that Gallego had with De Pedro, with whom she also met outside the official office. The Prosecutor’s Office requests that he be prosecuted for prevarication, influence peddling and embezzlement.
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