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.
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.