EIGHT ORIHUELA area businessmen have been convicted of a €9.6 million tax fraud and will have to pay back double what they embezzled.

Their ringleader was Angel Fenoll, who was given a 30 month jail term by an Orihuela court for committing five crimes against Spain’s tax authorities in 2005 and 2006.

The conviction comes after Fenoll was cleared in a similar tax fraud prosecution in 2016, but he faces a possible retrial in a bribery case involving a garbage contract with Orihuela council.

The fraud that Fenoll was found guilty of goes back to when he ran the Colsur and Proambiente waste collection companies on the Costa Blanca.

All eight defendants were convicted over the filing of a series of fake IVA and corporation tax returns in a total of 17 crimes.

Barring Fenoll, they all received prison sentences of under two years.

Under Spanish law that means that they will not have to do any jail time as they were first offences.

The Orihuela court ruled that each of the eight will have to pay back double of what they personally defrauded from the tax authority.

In Fenoll’s instance, he has been fined €8.6 million.

The verdicts and penalties can be appealed to the Alicante Provincial Court.

In July, anti-corruption prosecutors in Alicante launched an appeal over Fenoll running a bribery ring to win a waste disposal contract for Orihuela council.

Branded as the ‘Brugal Case’, Fenoll and 33 co-defendants, including two ex-Orihuela mayors, were cleared by an Elche court in June.

It was the biggest-ever corruption case heard in Alicante Province.

Fenoll faced up to 37 years behind bars if convicted, but judges threw out key surveillance material which prosecutors are now challenging as part of their move to get a retrial.

In 2016, Fenoll was cleared of tax fraud charges with 14 other people involving €4.5 million.

He was accused of running the scam in 2003 and 2004, but the case collapsed after the court ruled that the way the investigation had been conducted ‘violated the fundamental rights of the accused’.

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