Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Welcome Home Mr Matas

It was quite a day in Mallorca as Jaume Matas, the former president of the Balearic Islands regional government, returned home to face what could turn out to be an impressive list of corruption related charges. Matas, who also served as environment minister in the administration of José Maria Aznar, has established his residence in the US since losing power in the Balearics; something not that surprising given everything that has emerged about how the islands were run under his control.

The main issue which the judge is dealing with is the huge scandal over the construction of the Palma Arena. But Matas will almost certainly face questions over the luxuriously fitted mansion that he owns in Palma, a large and noble property which he managed to acquire for less than a million euros even though the taxman believes it to be worth almost three times that figure. Also under inspection is what on the face of it appears to be a remarkably frugal lifestyle. Based on the movements in his bank accounts, Matas managed to meet all of his expenses during three years with less than €500. An example to us all, captives as we are of relentless consumerism.

The Balearics could probably claim to be in the lead in terms of the number of politicians facing corruption related charges. To use a currently popular phrase, that puts them in the Champions League. The Partido Popular on the islands has effectively had to find an entire new leadership given that so many leading figures associated with the previous regime are currently facing charges. Unió Mallorquina, a party which has been in the happy position of lending its support to governments led by the PP and the PSOE, has recently also been decapitated as its leading figures face corruption charges. All of which has left the current administration in a minority, with the possibility of the PP then returning to power at the next election.

Matas was supposed to declare today but the judge gave him until tomorrow so that his defence could study fresh evidence. If things go badly for him, he may be spending tomorrow night in accommodation significantly less elegant and comfortable than that of his mansion. Although no one will try to break in. The PP at national level is just looking the other way whilst party leader Mariano Rajoy decides whether to burn those holiday snaps of him and Jaume enjoying their summer holidays together on Mallorca. Nobody in the party seems to be rushing to put "la mano en el fuego" for Matas.

No comments: