The tax advisor who was missing raises an alleged extortion at the hands of some ‘thugs’ to justify a hole of more than 600,000 euros
It has taken months to show his face, but José Luis Galiana arrived this week at the office of Judge José Fernández Ayuso, head of the Investigating Court number 7 of Murcia, with a version under his arm. Many call the alibi displayed by the well-known tax advisor from Murcia, who turned himself in to the Police last August after several months missing, a film. This story of companies in Singapore, extortionists with a Russian accent and frustrated suicide attempts is, however, the wall with which this professional intends to face the many questions raised by his disappearance and the hole, of more than 600,000 euros, left in a bank account, in which the accounting expert managed the funds from the bankruptcy of the well-known Huma Inmobiliaria.
This captivating story has its beginning -or its end, depending on how you look at it- on a cliff in Punta Prima, on the Orihuela coast. Galiana’s red Audi-A1 appeared off the cliff in this abrupt enclave of the coast at dawn on February 17 and a mystery began that still awaits answers today. The advisor argued this week before the judge, as he did last summer before the investigators of the Economic and Fiscal Crime Unit (UDEF), that he came to this cliff ready to take his own life but, thinking of his family, he opted for vanish. “It was an improvised act,” he stressed. “I left with what I was wearing.”
A “flight forward”
The defendant maintained that he opted for that “flight forward” – as his defense attorney, Pablo Ruiz-Palacios, cataloged it – pressured by the scam and subsequent extortion of which he was a victim. An “unsustainable” situation that had started a few years earlier when, according to his version, his steps joined with those of companies called Gateway 21 Bankers, based in Singapore, and Investment Global Group, in Texas, which were actually the same thing . Galiana explained to the magistrate that he was appointed agent in Spain for these companies in 2017 and that he was dedicated to offering long-term financial operations and looking for clients.
The alleged extortion that led him to put land in between began when he began an operation with these companies to finance a project of his family’s company. A firm that includes, in addition to the advisor, his mother and his brothers. The defendant explained that he intended to obtain financing to set up a hotel business and another vehicle cleaning business in the center of Murcia and that for this he had to contribute 234,089 euros to these companies, as a management expense, which he would recover in fifteen days.
“It was an improvised act,” he says about his disappearance. “I left with what I was wearing”
The problem came, as he acknowledged, when he took that money from the bankruptcy account that he managed. After fifteen days, he explained that he claimed those funds by phone and that he told them that if they did not give him the money he would report them, but that the representatives of those companies refused. In November 2017, according to his version, he received the visit of two people who are key in his story for the first time. These are two men of whom he has only been able to offer the Police their supposed first names and a poorly detailed physical description. Two Russian-accented ‘thugs’ who threatened him, telling him they knew where his children studied. He stated that they forced him not to report the appropriation of those funds and to continue making transfers.
Galiana maintained that a leader of that company demanded payments from him and that, if he was late, the two ‘thugs’ would come to his office and put a gun on the table. It was that sword of Damocles, according to her version, that led her to give in to that alleged extortion, which lasted nearly a year. Twelve months in which he made multiple bank transfers not only from the bankruptcy account he managed -and in which he left a hole of more than 600,000 euros- but from some other accounts linked to him and his own family. This is a fact that the lawyer Ruiz-Palacios puts on the table as “irrefutable proof” of the veracity of his story. “I was paying for the fear of the situation I was experiencing,” he stressed.
That alleged looting ended when the advisor decided to stand up to him. “At a certain point I arrived and said enough because I couldn’t go on like this,” he recalled. “I refused to send them more money and told them that if they wanted to shoot me because I was not going to pay anything.” Galiana explained that in February, although this alleged extortion had already ceased, she was still “afraid” and called his bizarre disappearance an “act of despair”. “They had me caught hand and foot.”
He was hidden for months in an apartment in Benidorm
For months, the whereabouts of the well-known tax advisor José Luis Galiana was one of the most repeated questions, but the hiding place of this professional was only 120 kilometers from his native Murcia. An apartment in Benidorm served as the defendant’s lair for most of that period, according to sources close to the case. After throwing her Audi-A1 off the Punta Prima cliff, Galiana sought shelter in Alicante’s Marina Alta and, somewhat later, took up residence in the city of skyscrapers. It was not until much later that Galiana crossed the border to Ireland.
In the more than 170 days that he was missing, this professional was even doing some online consulting work. Those efforts were precisely those that allowed the Civil Guard to find his whereabouts. According to sources close to the case, Galiana had been operating under a false identity but, at a certain point, she accessed a European job search database with her real data. A simple movement that ended up uncovering his location and unraveling the skein of the mystery of his disappearance.
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