8 Mar, 2024 @ 12:34
2 mins read

Guns, 23 cellphones, cryptocurrency, and €500 notes: What police found in the house of Koldo Garcia, the man at the centre of the Covid mask corruption scandal that has rocked Spain’s Socialist government

Frenchman kills neighbour and then turns gun on himself at luxury Costa Blanca urbanisation in Spain

POLICE investigators made some startling discoveries when they searched the home of Koldo Garcia, the former right-hand man of ex-Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos and the main suspect at the centre of a corruption scandal that has rocked the Socialist-led Spanish government. 

A total of 23 mobile phones, nine firearms, a cryptocurrency account, and as much as €24,000 in cash were turned up by the Guardia Civil when they raided the home of Garcia in Polop de la Marina, Alicante province, on February 20. 

They also found a series of electronic devices and documents that will prove useful to the ongoing High Court investigation into the alleged corrupt network, which is suspected to have seen Garcia receiving major kickbacks for facilitating government contracts to purchase face masks during the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020. 

Among the items seized was a hard disk that was labelled with ‘Transport Ministry’, while 13 of the cellphones recovered from the search were expensive iPhones.

That’s according to the Guardia Civil report from the search, which has been leaked and widely reported by the Spanish press. 

jose luis abalos
Former transport minister Jose Luis Abalos.

The cryptocurrency account detected, from the trading company Binance, contained the relatively low amount of €586, while Garcia did at least have a firearms licence according to another Guardia Civil report, for the three shotguns, five rifles and one nine-milimetre pistol found in his home. 

The so-called ‘Koldo case’ came to light on February 20, when 20 people were arrested by Spain’s Guardia Civil for their alleged involvement in the scandal. 

The company at the centre of the case, Soluciones de Gestión (management solutions), had little to no activity before the pandemic. 

During the health emergency, however, it won a government contract to supply eight million masks at a cost of €20 million.

Garcia is accused by prosecutors of having pocketed commissions of €1.5 million for acting as an intermediary in the deal. He is thought to have invested the funds in the purchase of three apartments and several plots of land. 

Abalos has also been implicated in the scandal, although he has not so far been arrested or charged with any wrongdoing. 

He has defended his innocence since the story broke, and has held onto his job as a deputy in Congress despite being expelled from the Socialist Party, which called on him to quit last week. 

Speaker in Congress Francina Armengol
Speaker in Congress Francina Armengol in a file photo. © Alberto Gardin/ZUMA Press Wire

Instead of leaving his role as a lawmaker, he has instead joined the grupo mixto, the mixed group of deputies from small parties in Congress, where he is now an independent.

Meanwhile, the Socialist speaker of Spain’s Congress of Deputies, Francina Armengol, held a press conference on Tuesday in a bid to defend her actions while she was premier of the Balearic Islands, after the main opposition Partido Popular (PP) accused her of involvement in the scandal. 

The speaker in the lower house of parliament put up a spirited defence of her innocence, pointing out that she is not being investigated over the purchase of masks from Soluciones de Gestión.

Armengol denied that she had received ‘orders’ or ‘pressure’ from anyone in the Socialist-led administration to use the company.

Also this week, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez sought to defend his government’s actions in the midst of the first corruption scandal to hit his government since he came to power back in 2018. 

Speaking informally on a plane to journalists covering his official visit to Brazil and Chile, Sanchez admitted that the ‘Koldo case’ was ‘serious’. 

However, he pointed to his party’s swift action to expel former minister Abalos, and attacked the main opposition Partido Popular (PP) for what he called a ‘disinformation campaign’.

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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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