Spain’s top court has upheld convictions for 16 former top officials from Andalucia’s Socialist party in one of the biggest fraud scandals to hit Spain’s political elite.
The Supreme Court has ordered the former president of the Junta José Antonio Griñán to prison and ratified the disqualification of his predecessor Manuel Chaves.
The appeal ruling comes three years after a Seville court convicted 19 former top officials in the then ruling Socialist government for diverting €680 million in public funds.
It was part of an unemployment support scheme known as ERE that was supposed to help companies in the region suffering the highest jobless rate in Spain.
Dubbed the ‘reptile fund’, this vast pool of money came from Madrid with the intention of stimulating employment and aiding ailing companies.
But, in reality, it was illegally syphoned off to pay off friends and key enemies of the Socialist-run Junta, creating what will now go down as the biggest public money corruption case in Spanish history.
The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the convictions of 16 of the 19 former officials and acquitted three others.
It upheld Griñán’s conviction for embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds for which he was handed a jail sentence of six years.
The court also confirmed Chaves’ conviction of maladministration and banned him from holding public office for nine years.
The now ratified ruling by the Seville High Court, found that both former presidents of the Junta were “fully aware of the blatant and patent illegality” of the fraudulently allocated ERE monies distributed from the public coffers between 2000 and 2009.
Along with Griñán, the Supreme Court handed down prison sentences to the ex-councillors Antonio Fernandez, Francisco Vallejo, Jose Antonio Vieira and Carmen Martinez Aguayo, who were each sentenced to between six and eight years in prison.
EXPLAINER: How €680 million of Junta de Andalucia cash was embezzled in ERE scandal, Spain’s biggest EVER public money corruption case