TWO high-ranking politicians are among 14 people arrested yesterday (Thursday March 13) on charges of corruption.

The national government sub-delegate to the Valencia region, Rafael Rubio, and former Valencia city Deputy Mayor, Alfonso Grau, were detained on suspicion of accepting bribes on behalf of construction companies in exchange for public contracts.

Initial reports suggest that Grau (PP), right-hand-man of now deceased Valencia Mayoress Rita Barbera who ruled the regional capital for 24 years, made up to €1 million in illegal commissions, while Rubio (PSPV) allegedly ‘earned’ €300,000 in under-the-table cash payments.

Valencia City Hall 1
Valencia City Hall

Upon his arrest by the Guardia Civil yesterday, Rubio was immediately dismissed from his post by chief government delegate Gloria Calero, while officers searched his home and were seen leaving with suitcases full of suspected evidence.

Other arrests this week included one of Grau’s daughters, construction moguls, legal assessors connected to the Valencia provincial government, and others in a simultaneous swoop in Valencia, Alicante, Madrid and Ciudad Real (Castilla-La Mancha).

The investigation, code-named Azud, began two years ago with the arrest and charging of Rita Barbera’s brother-in-law – a prominent lawyer reported by the Tax authorities for financial irregularities -, her sister and their three daughters for allegedly acting as go-betweens for the payment of bribes by private companies working with Valencia City Hall.  

According to police sources, firms paid illegal commissions in exchange for the right to purchase and build on publicly owned land in and around Valencia. 

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