FORMER Ronda mayor Antonio Marin Lara could be investigated for up to a dozen different cases of planning fraud.
Environmental group Ecologistas en Accion has expressed its delight at the arrest of Lara – known locally as Toti – and highlighted a long list of urban projects dating back years that have been ‘plagued by irregularities’ and could now be investigated.
In particular, the group – which congratulated the judges, prosecutors and police involved in the investigation – has led the charge against Lara for licensing the controversial Los Merinos development which includes a double golf course, 800 houses and three luxury hotels.
It also referred to the proliferation of new houses built in the basin of the Tajo on land classified for special protection, the building of a racing track at Ascari and the construction of a shopping centre on the site of the former football field.
So far seven people have been arrested in ‘Operation Acinipo’, including two of the directors of supermarket chain Eroski and a Malaga lawyer.
It comes after Ronda town hall was raided yesterday by a team from the National Police’s elite UDYCO department in the latest crackdown on urban planning fraud.
After more than a year of investigations, anti-fraud investigators have accused the group of bribery, corruption, embezzlement and money laundering.
The order to swoop came after a year in which prosecutor Valentin Bueno tapped telephones and investigated various cases.
Those arrested also include the secretary of the PSOE party Francisco Canestro and two former councillors Maria Jose Martin de Haro and Rafael Lara.
The PSOE has now formally suspended all of them, while investigations continue.