FORMER Valencia region president, Eduardo Zaplana, has suffered a new setback in trying to rebuke money laundering allegations involving up to €20 million.
A new Guardia Civil report says nearly €4 million was funnelled into a Luxembourg company and then transferred back to Spain to buy property and goods for Zaplana including a €1.6 million Madrid apartment.
The ex-Partido Popular(PP) politician was Spain’s Minister of Employment and Social Security two decades ago and has been embroiled in a long corruption investigation over kick-backs received for contract awards.
The third in a series of Guardia Civil reports involving Zaplana has been handed over to the investigating judge.
Zaplana was Valencian president between 1995 and 2002, when he resigned to take up a cabinet position in the PP government led by Jose Maria Aznar.
He was arrested in May 2018 in the so-called ‘Erial Case’ for money laundering and bribery but has yet to be tried.
Zaplana was suspended at the time from membership of the PP..
The latest Guardia Civil report details an extensive money laundering scheme over awards for the Valencian Community Wind Energy Plan and ITV concessions.
Payments to Zaplana went to Luxembourg and Andorra, and then partially returned to Spain to be laundered in the purchase of houses, apartments, land, boats, and watches.
It’s estimated that €20 million was laundered and the Guardia have tracked down around half that sum.
€6 million was documented in a previous Guardia report that claimed Zaplana mades transfers to a private Andorra bank.
Uruguayan lawyer, Fernando Belhot, acted on Zaplana’s behalf and decided to cooperate with authorities.
He is believed to have moved at least €156 million to Andorra for Spanish ‘clients’.
The new Guardia report totals almost €4 million of laundering linking Zaplana to Luxembourg company, Imison International.
Cash was funnelled with what the Guardia described as a ‘broad corporate structure that had the purpose of channelling, hiding, and making available funds of criminal origin to the final beneficiaries’.
The money returned to Spain via four companies- Costera del Glorio, Medlevante, Gesdesarrollos integral and Turnis Sylvatica.
One example detailed involved the Benidorm-registered real estate firm, Costera del Gloria.
Laundered cash was used to buy an apartment in the Salamanca area of Madrid for €1.6 million.
€91,000 was spent on renovating it as well as €21,000 to kit it out with electrical appliances and to pay for a housekeeper.
Zaplana is accused of using several ‘front men’ for his operation including a former director of Benidorm theme park Terra Mitica, Joaquin Barcelo.
Zaplana got to know him during his term as Benidorm mayor between 1991 and 1994.
Barcelo’s name appeared on the deeds as the apartment buyer.
The housekeeper told the Guardia that only ‘Zaplana used the property’ and tried to ‘sneak in’ via the lift to avoid being seen.
Other property purchases included two apartments in the Altea area of the Costa Blanca with Zaplana buying watches worth €20,000.
Eduardo Zaplana has strongly denied the claims made in the latest Guardia Civil report.
A statement said that there is ‘no direct evidence’ that he participated in transactions being investigated and he ‘never has or has had any assets or money kept outside Spain’.
Partido Popular politicians in Valencia have long been mired in a serious of corruption probes and allegations.
A money-laundering case against 50 PP councillors and workers, including ex-mayor, Rita Barbera, collapsed.
Eight charges against Zaplana’s Valencian presidential successor, Francisco Camps, also came to nothing.
On the other hand, ex-Valencian PP figure, Rafael Blasco, was jailed for syphoning money meant to go to ‘Third World’ projects.
Former Valencian parliament speaker, Milagrosa Martinez, is serving a nine-year prison term after being convicted in 2017 for embezzlement and bribery.
That involved the award of a €5 million contract for the regional stand at Madrid’s FITUR tourism fair between 2005 and 2009.
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