IT is one more nail in the coffin for the former leaders of the Junta de Andalucia.
A series of detectives have told a court how the region’s political leaders were fully aware of a public money scandal, that syphoned up to €855 million over ten years.
The four policemen told Sevilla court how the so-called ‘cupola’, or leaders of the Junta, ‘knew about and protected the system’.
Their testimony comes after years of investigation into the ERE case that has so far seen two ex-leaders Manuel Chaves and Jose Antonio Grinan in the dock.
With more than 140 witnesses left to testify, it is a damning blow to the two ex-PSOE bosses, and 20 other political figures, who stand accused of embezzlement of public funds.
The decade-long scandal saw politicians from the socialist-run Junta divert public money from an €855 million fund meant for unemployed and retired workers.
In total, at least €141 million in public funds were fraudulently taken via the Junta.
Three of the Guardia Civil agents, of the UCO financial crimes department, told the court how vast sums of money were given to business owners and politicians for favours or to pay for ‘political affinity’ to the PSOE.
In particular, many socialist mayors in the north of the Sevilla province were beneficiaries.
Under the scheme numerous companies were set up to merely employ bogus employees, who would then be given payouts for being laid off.
They also revealed that the concept of syphoning off money for friends and family of politicians, started as long ago as 1999 with the quango IFA, which later changed its name to IDEA.
Meanwhile, judge Juan Antonio Calle has expressed his frustration over the defendants’ claims that they ‘cannot remember’ or were ‘not informed’ about certain aspects of the process.
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