Nineteen held in Málaga corruption crackdown

LAST UPDATED: 21 Jun, 2007 @ 12:26
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Town mayor defends “honourable, hard working” detainees

POLICE have detained 19 businesspeople in connection with alleged corruption in a Málaga town.

The arrests were made as part of Operation Troya, an ongoing investigation into claims the council of Alhaurín el Grande asked for “donations” in exchange for favourable urban decisions.
The 19 – who all work in the housing sector – were held simultaneously at home and at work in various places around the Málaga province.

It is claimed those arrested paid backhanders of varying quantities in exchange for favourable urban decisions.

Police believe the ayuntamiento (town hall) of Alhaurín el Grande received at least 600,000 euros in donations from businesses in the housing sector between 2005 and 2006.

This money was earmarked for council work, according to sources close to the investigation.

Town mayor Juan Martín Serón defended those arrested and slammed the police, accusing them of “political persecution” against the Partido Popular (PP), the party he represents.

“They have detained 18 honourable and hard-working people, whose only crime has been to create jobs.

“These arrests have caused irreparable moral damage to our town. If there is one honourable and transparent town hall in Spain, that is Alhaurín el Grande,” he said.

Both Martín Serón and the town’s chief of urban development Gregorio Guerra were arrested earlier this year as part of the same investigation.

Serón was detained after having lunch in Marbella with Partido Popular leader Mariano Rajoy.

The two councillors, who were released after paying bail of 100,000 euros, are believed to have demanded 121,000 euros from a local constructor in exchange for a building works licence (the Olive Press – issue 16).

In later raids on the mayor’s home and office, police confiscated 67,000 euros in cash – all in 500-euro notes.

Martín Serón, who regained control of the town in the recent municipal elections, and Guerra deny any wrongdoing.

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