A DISGRACED publisher exposed by the Olive Press has pleaded his innocence after being arrested at Malaga airport.
Ian Walton, who was questioned on suspicion of fraud by his company Forward Press, insisted he was a “victim of the recession.”
Speaking to the Olive Press, Walton insisted he was not guilty of defrauding 9,100 pupils at 1,400 schools around Spain.
Police believe that at least 400 schools in Andalucia fell victim to the ‘Escritores Jovenes’ competition, where the parents paid 13 euros to have their children’s work published.
As the Olive Press revealed in January the company’s two offices in La Cala and Malaga shut after failing to deliver 35,000 books that had been paid for.
Police believe that the company took at least 160,000 euros fraudulently.
In the following issue, we reported how the publisher had set up similar schemes in Italy and France, now confirmed by police using a separate company Bonacia.
A UK report in the Mail on Sunday later claimed he had shrugged off a 1.6m debt and continued to live a luxurious lifestyle.
However, Walton insists that he and his business were casualties of the financial crisis.
“The Spanish authorities need to decide whether I committed fraud or whether I am a genuine victim of the recession,” Walton explained.
“I maintain my innocence and hope they will see I have not committed any crime.”
He claims that when Forward Press went bust in the UK last year, reportedly owing 250,000 euros, the Spanish arm couldn’t survive.
“I poured 320,000 euros into the Spanish business but we still couldn’t cover the rents, staff costs, etc.
“I still have every intention of publishing all the books we promised.”
However, Guardia Civil detectives claim he was arrested last month after renting new premises in Marbella.
They confirmed that his second firm Bonacia was already taking in new orders elsewhere in Europe.
The prosecutor leading the case requires Walton to report in every two weeks while they build the case against him.