Forty set to go to trial in part one of the Gürtel case

After nearly six years of investigations, forty people are due to stand trial in part one of the so-called Gürtel corruption case, a scandal relating to a kickbacks-for-contracts scheme including, amongst others, a former PP Party Treasurer and an ex-Minister.

Investigators have been following leads involving six regional governments and nearly 200 official suspects, making it the largest pre-trial probe in the history of the High Court.

The defendants, including Francisco Correa and Luis barcenas, are formal suspects relating to 12 offences allegedly committed between 1999 and 2005. Such is the extent of the corruption that investigators have not yet even started to look into part two of the case, the period covering 2005 to 2009,

The damage to public coffers from the corrupt business dealings of the ring, allegedly headed up by Francisco Correa, has been estimated at €449 million. Fines and financial bonds to this amount have therefore been handed down to 36 of the defendants.

Luis Bárcenas, a PP manager between 1993 and 2008 and national party treasurer between 2008 and 2009, faces the highest civil bond at €88 million. The alleged Gürtel mastermind, Francisco Correa, faces a financial bond of €60 million to cover civil liabilities in the case. The two men were also found to have over €70 million between them stashed in Swiss bank accounts, the origin of the money being so far unknown.

Hundreds of public contracts were awarded to Gürtel companies, either without bids or through rigged processes, and Gürtel representatives expressed their appreciation with cash or lavish gifts. Former health minister Ana Mato was one leading politician who benefited through the donation of family trips.

However, Mato is only accused of profiting from her husband’s alleged crimes, as it was Jesús Sepúlveda, former mayor of Pozuelo de Alarcón, who favoured Gürtel companies while in office and accepted cash, presents and trips as his reward.

Correa also allegedly mediated in land awards, helping people to secure their desired real estate deals in exchange for a fee.

The case has also revealed evidence of the keeping of a second set of parallel accounts showing the payment of illegal commissions to PP politicians, a scandal that rocked the PP and is certainly much of the reason for the rapid rise of new political parties promising an end to corruption.

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