New costa corruption scandal

LAST UPDATED: 18 Jun, 2008 @ 17:34
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20 arrested as Costa del Corruption investigation begins again this time in Estepona

A NEW corruption investigation has engulfed the Costa del Sol.

The multi-million euro investigation in the popular resort of Estepona is understood to centre on real estate corruption.

Said to be similar to Marbella’s Operation Malaya, the mayor and up to ten councillors have been arrested.

Around two dozen police arrived to shut down the town hall, while in depth searches went ahead. Termed Operation Astapa, around 17 businessmen have also been arrested.

Mayor Antonio Barrientes and his co-accused face a range of charges including bribery, influence-trafficking, prevarication and money-laundering.

Among the alleged crimes is the reclassifying land to be sold off to contacts at below market prices.

The group are also said to have taken bribes in return for issuing licences.

Mayor Barrientos from the socialist PSOE party was arrested at his home in the Bahía Azul urbanisation on the edge of the town.

A full scale search of his palatial home was then undertaken by members of the specialist UDYCO anti-organised crime unit.

The mayor took charge of the town in 2003 after making a pact with the now-defunct GIL party.

The operation was launched by Estepona court in secret in November 2006 and has involved a number of phone taps.

Those arrested include Francisco Zamorano, the ex-Socialist spokesman, who resigned earlier this month, as well as municipal architect Arturo Cebrian.

Others seized include Manuel Reina from the local PES party as well as some former members of the GIL party, led by infamously corrupt former mayor of Marbella Jesus Gil.

The names of several local businessmen arrested are not yet known.

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