Is Murcia the next Marbella?

LAST UPDATED: 16 Dec, 2007 @ 11:12
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Mayors, councillors and property developers held in police investigation

Police raids against urban corruption in a small Murcia town have resulted in the arrests of 12 people.

Both the current and former mayors of Totana are at the centre of the police investigation, and have been charged with bribery, the falsification of public documents, fraud and money laundering.

The probe is centred on plans to triple the size of the town, which has 28,000 inhabitants, with the construction of 45,000 new homes.

Also held as part of Operation Totem were property developers in Madrid and Galicia, who are believed to have paid more than six million euros to have land status in the town changed.
Following his arrest and detainment, council leader José Martínez Andreo stepped down from the Partido Popular (PP).

In recent years, the region has seen corruption investigations in 14 PP-led town halls. Recently, seven council officials in Águilas were accused of misuse of position and falsification of documents after judges stopped work on a golf course and residential complex that was being built on EU-protected land (see the Olive Press, issue 32).

According to claims, the PP regional government had illegally reclassified the land, resulting in a 75-million-euro windfall for a local businessman, who is an alleged friend of the president of the Junta de Murcia.

Seven councillors in the towns of Torre-Pacheco and Fuente Álamo are also at the centre of an investigation after urban plans were approved that also allegedly financially benefited a well-known constructor.

A PP parliamentary spokesman claims the investigations a “PSOE-conducted witch hunt” before next year’s General Election.

The Costa del Sol resort of Marbella has become internationally notorious in the past few years with a number of high-profile corruption investigations, namely Operation Malaya which uncovered widespread bribery and fraud in the town hall.

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