Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cobo Falls Into Line

For a while it looked as if my prediction about the Madrid espionage scandal was going to be wrong. Manuel Cobo, deputy to Alberto Ruiz Gallardón and one of those spied upon, lodged an appeal against the decision by the judge to shelve the case. Then today he withdrew that appeal following pressure from the national headquarters of the Partido Popular, all in the interests of "party discipline". I hope he gets something in return for his sacrifice, perhaps a guarantee that the Aguirre Gang won't be able to exclude him from the PP's lists for Madrid in next year's elections?

The other PP politician who was being tailed, Alfredo Prada, had already decided not to appeal the decision of the judge. This doesn't mean that the case has completely died, prosecutors and the Madrid branch of the PSOE have also lodged appeals; but without the participation of those who were the victims of the espionage it seems unlikely that the case will get very far. Which is not to say that there aren't any legal problems on the horizon for Madrid's rulers.

In a new twist to that part of the Gürtel corruption case affecting Madrid, we now have the case of multiple payments being made to different companies for the same contract. Another of these companies with fancy sounding English names, Marketing Quality Management (MQM), has now become officially linked to Gürtel as anti-corruption prosecutors have added them to the list of companies under investigation.

MQM had already featured in the press for having been the recipients of an expensive promotional contract from the Comunidad de Madrid which produced no visible results of any kind. Now it has emerged that they were awarded an even more suspicious contract by the same administration. Just before the last elections in Madrid they received a relatively modest contract for organising the presidential events in Madrid. That's a euphemism for La Lideresa's numerous bogus inaugurations.

Shortly after the elections were over, and before the newly re-elected Aguirre even had time for many fresh photo opportunities, the company had already submitted invoices for 150% of the value of the contract. Fast work, quickly followed by other Gürtel companies submitting their own invoices for work allegedly done on the same events. The coincidence with the election campaign and all this sudden spending is interesting, and we will see whether the prosecutors can track the money trail. Aguirre's pretence that her administration has just been the innocent victim of a few "chorizos" was never very convincing anyway.

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