28 Feb, 2023 @ 20:00
2 mins read

Opposition parties pile on to Spanish government over ‘Mediator’ corruption scandal

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez Prepares For An Interview At A Nato Summit In Madrid
Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez arrives for an interview on the final day of a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, Thursday, June 30, 2022. Photo by Paul Hanna/UPI

THE LEADER of Spain’s main opposition Popular Party, Alberto Nuñez Feijoo, on Tuesday accused the governing Socialists of covering up a corruption case that has been dubbed ‘Mediator’, and demanded that Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez offer an explanation about ‘exactly what has happened’ and ‘how many people’ were involved. 

The Mediator Case came to light on February 14, when a series of arrests took place in the Canary Islands and different provinces on the Iberian peninsula. 

The network is alleged to have offered business figures advantages when bidding for public contracts in exchange for payoffs, while there is also evidence of parties involving drugs, alcohol and prostitutes, paid for with the ill-gotten gains. 

The heads of the network are also alleged to have extorted businesses in the farming sector in exchange for positive inspections or European Union funding. 

The first step for businessmen who wanted to benefit from what the network was offering was to pay a €5,000 sum to a sports association run by the Socialist Party deputy in Congress, Juan Bernardo Fuentes. 

Around six companies in the Canary Islands are alleged to have coughed up the amount, according to investigators. 

Fuentes has already been stripped of his role as a deputy and thrown out of the Socialist Party due to the allegations. He has since been arrested now that he no longer enjoys immunity as a lawmaker. 

Meanwhile, also under investigation are a Civil Guard general, Francisco Espinosa Navas, and Canarian businessman Antonio Navarro Tacoronte.

The leftist party Unidas Podemos, which is the junior partner of the Socialist Party in government, has also condemned the corruption. The spokesperson in Congress, Pablo Echenique, said it was ‘very serious’ and that this kind of affair pushed progressive voters away from politics. 

Far-right Vox, which is the third-largest group in Congress after the Socialist Party and the Popular Party, has already committed to joining the prosecution in the Mediator case. Vox leader Santiago Abascal described the affair as ‘another nail in the government’s coffin’.

The scandal comes at a key time for the Socialist Party, given that regional and local elections are scheduled for May of this year, with a general election due before the end of 2023. 

But so far the government has shaken off any suggestion that it could harm the party at the polls. 

Sources from the administration have told news agency Europa Press that they do not think the scandal will have an effect on its support, given that the PSOE immediately saw that Fuentes was removed from his role as a deputy in Congress and was expelled by the party. 

Patxi Lopez, the Socialists’ spokesperson in Congress, said on Tuesday morning that for now there was no suggestion that any other lawmakers were involved in the scandal.

There was also no indication on Tuesday as to whether Prime Minister Sanchez will make a statement about the affair.

Read more:

Corruption prosecutors in Spain seeking 15-year jail term for former interior minister in ‘Operation Kitchen’ 

Spain falls on corruption ranking for the second year in a row

Husband of Marbella mayor formally accused of belonging to a criminal organisation, money laundering

Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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