Saturday, February 27, 2010

Gürtel....The Code For Business As Usual?

Can it really be so long since I last blogged about the Gürtel case? You could almost be forgiven for thinking that it had disappeared, although the first anniversary of its emergence into public view has only recently passed. Despite the decline in coverage of the case, the investigation continues to advance steadily and the number of people who might face charges of corruption is now claimed to be around 80. The investigating judge in Madrid who is dealing with the bulk of the case is having his own problems. Apart from the complexity of following the money trail around the world, the defence lawyers have been systematically appealing every action he takes and in the process slowing down the processing of the investigation. Despite this we have been told that the secreto de sumario protecting details of the prosecution case will mostly be lifted in the middle of March, meaning that the issue will certainly return to the headlines with the revelation of what the formal accusations are.

One of those who were originally accused last year, the former PP member of the European Parliament Gerardo Galeote, had a very happy new year when it was revealed that he would not be charged. Not because he was innocent, but he benefits from the fact that the time limit on charging him for his alleged offences had expired. He may not be so lucky with the tax collectors of Hacienda who have calculated that the money owed in unpaid taxes by several of those involved in the case would do much help public finances in these difficult times.

Not everyone has got wealthy out of Gürtel, and this is why I ask you all to find a little place in your hearts for Valencian president Francisco Camps. There we were thinking that he liked the good life, with elegant clothes and fast cars. Then this week we discovered from the pseudo declaration of assets in the Valencian parliament that the poor man is only just keeping his head above water! Shades of Esperanza Aguirre and her now infamous difficulty in getting by on her miserable salary as it turns out that Camps only possesses €900, a 15 year old car and a half share in a humble apartment. If I was him I would commission one last item of clothing with the legend “My friends all went to Gürtel and all I got was this lousy T-shirt”.

Camps still has to wait for the appeal to be heard concerning the case of his expensive suits, but for the moment his friend and favourite judge, José Luis de la Rúa, continues to run the Valencian court that dealt with the case; thanks to political wrangling over the naming of his successor. The same court has happily ceded to Madrid on the question of whether the Valencian PP used the Gürtel ring to illegally finance its own activities. The PP in Valencia has in the process offended the national party by claiming that it was headquarters in Madrid who ran their financial affairs. With Madrid, Valencia and the Supreme Court all involved, Gürtel is putting some stress on the division of the judicial system between Spain's autonomous regions.

Politically, the case of the PP's treasurer Luis Barcenas is particularly interesting, it seems that his resignation as treasurer of the PP was every bit as bogus as that of Ricardo Costa in Valencia. Not only does he still have his office in the PP's national headquarters but it appears that the party is paying for his lawyer. This is a bit odd for two reasons. Firstly because Bárcenas is not exactly short of cash, and secondly because it would appear to be ever so slightly inconsistent with the party's claim that it now has a tough code of ethical conduct. So very tough that it appears to involve no action of any kind being taken to deal with any of the PP members currently involved in corruption cases. It is widely believed that the special treatment being received by Bárcenas is due to him being the “man who knows too much”, with insider knowledge of everything concerning the PP's finances and more in recent years.

1 comment:

Lee said...

I wonder, following the line he established with the "Citizenship" classes that so upset him* will he file his appeal in Engilsh?

*The Spanish national school systen has a citizenship class, like many countries, and ours includes lessons on the realities of gay marriage and adoption, which drives the conservatives batshit. Camps decided that such classes, in Valencia, could only be given in English (purportedly to improve the kids' English level, in reality to piss off the Socialists).