16 Mar, 2009 @ 14:10
1 min read

Cash is King (size)

juan manuel martin alba
BUILDER: Martin gave permission for over 1000 illegal homes in return for cash

160,000 euros found under bed of mayor arrested for thousands of illegal licences

WHEN investigators arrived at his home they found 160,000 euros hidden under his bed.

A further 90,000 euros was picked up from the office of an associate.

Now, no amount of cash will help Alcaucin mayor Juan Manuel Martin Alba from facing a long prison sentence.

The Axarquia mayor has been charged, along with 12 others, of running a property scandal that stretched back over a decade.

BUILDER: Martin gave permission for over 1000 illegal homes in return for cash
BUILDER: Martin gave permission for over 1000 illegal homes in return for cash

In total, investigators found over 250,000 euros in cash, which Martin claimed was his ‘lifetime savings’.

But investigators in the operation codenamed Arcos, insist that the money – and up to 250,000 euros more – relates to a series of shady land deals in the Axarquia.


They claim that Martin took bribes to give permission for 1064 properties to be built on rustic land between 1991 and 2007.

Many of the properties involved are owned by expatriates, looking for holiday homes within 20 minutes of the coast.

Martin, 55, a builder by trade, has now been ejected from the PSOE party that he has represented for four terms in the small Axarquia village, which has a population of just 2,500.

Martin’s two daughters, as well as a close friend, who ran a real estate business in Huelva, are among those arrested.

Those arrested face charges of bribery, money laundering, influence peddling, perverting the course of justice, document falsification, land planning irregularities and fraud.

Juan Espadas, the Regional Councillor for Housing, said that the Junta had registered 21 denuncias for real estate irregularities in Alcaucín.

He claimed it had challenged 27 building licences granted by the Town Hall and defended the regional government’s role in the control of real estate planning.

As frequently reported in the Olive Press over the last few years, the Axarquia area – as in Chiclana, in Cadiz – has become a Wild West of unregulated, out of control construction.

Green group Ecologistas en Accion estimate as many as 21,000 homes have been built illegally on rustic land in the area.


  1. The EU has overwhelmingly voted against the “endemic corruption” in Spain’s property market, and will now withhold millions of euros in funds. Good on them – I think Spain may start listening now; the EU have said that land grab and demolitions are contrary to the Human Rights Act.

    Perhaps the OP can cover this event in more detail?

  2. In 2002 I sent in a planning objection against a quite extensive development in the small pretty village of Macharaviaya near Rincon de la Victoria. Although professionally translated (time and cost substantial) the document never reached its destination. The Architect for the Diputacion de Malaga apparently tore it up before it got to the Junta for discussion.

    This architect, who had no business to interfere in the normal process of law ,was arrested, I understand, at the same time as the Mayor of Alcaucin. (JM) Despite many requests even via lawyers and a gestor the truth was only revealed to me in 2007.

    Also I was not allowed to have access to original documents relating to the permissions given to build my house, unless accompanied by the builder who was part of the infraction – the infractions recently confirmed by the Defensor del Pueblo March 2009 years after my enquiries started. Wasted years when points of law can be ruled ‘out of time’ because of cover-up and deceit.

    A representative of the newly emerging National Federation against urbanistic abuses has advised interested parties that under the terms of the Aarhus Treaty and Convention (see internet) (to which Spain was a signatory) all Town Halls must expose all civic documentation required by its citizens.
    I hope this helps many people who are being denied the truth by their Town Halls and that they will see the need to join forces to ridicule and overthrow the current incopetence and corruption which has become their daily diet an otherwise spoiling their lives and blighting the reputation of a lovely country and casting a shadow of suspicion over decent Spanish citizens.

    I will be pleased to put you in touch with your nearest helpful contact.

    Christine A. Ferguson (Citizen Advocacy)

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