The first main course of the third great trial of the PP for the Gürtel plot, which began this week at the National Court, has finally arrived this Wednesday. The head of the corrupt network, Francisco Correa, and his former number two, Pablo Crespo, have testified before the court and have recognized their participation in the fixing of contracts in Boadilla del Monte (Madrid) thanks to the approval of the local leaders of the conservative party. But the two defendants, for whom the Prosecutor’s Office is asking for 76 and 64 years in prison, respectively, have insisted that their activity was not limited to this rich municipality: “I have awarded many works. Not only in Boadilla, but in many municipalities and at a general level, ”Correa stressed during his interrogation.
The plot nested for years within the PP, which has already accumulated two convictions for benefiting from Gürtel and which faces a third in this oral hearing. Crespo himself, who was secretary of the Organization of the popular Galicians, has said that Correa “won the account of the PP at a global level in 1994” and, from then on, wove a whole network of contacts that helped him to disembark in the administrations governed by the party. “Correa has always been an excellent public relations man. He established a relationship with all the leaders and with the mayors. He was a person with a great capacity to influence all of them. And that’s how he got to know everyone ”, has pointed out his number two.
As the accusations maintain and 17 of the 24 defendants have admitted, the plot entered the Boadilla City Council at the beginning of the last decade to rig awards with the aim of benefiting certain businessmen who paid it commissions. The builders paid bites that were later distributed by Correa, his men and different positions of the PP – among them, the then mayor, Arturo González Panero, El Albondiguilla—, who also received “gifts” such as clothing and travel. Part of that money was for conservative training, as it was used to pay for advertising expenses and electoral campaigns. “This was done according to the indications and instructions received from the regional and national leadership of the PP,” said the ex-mayor in a letter sent to the court.
Correa has taken advantage of his statement to ratify the confession letter that he sent on November 25, 2020 to the National Court. As in his manuscript, the Gürtel leader began by explaining when he met another of the great protagonists of this trial, Arturo González Panero. “Guillermo Ortega introduced it to me, [regidor de Majadahonda], because they were classmates. It was at lunch. Arturo was already mayor ”, he has detailed. In this way, the businessman has shown how he used his tentacles within the PP. The party is also accused in this hearing as a profitable participant for profiting from the corrupt network.
For about an hour, Correa has detailed how he landed in Boadilla and how he operated to rig public contracts. As he has assured, he was limited to doing “work of lobby”. He mediated between the builders and the City Council – he always spoke with González Panero or with César Tomás Martín Morales, head of the Municipal Land and Housing Company (EMSV), depending on his version. “I intervened so that the award went to the company [elegida]”, He insisted, before referring to the bites they received in return:“ I was the one who negotiated the amount with the employers. These gave me cash after setting a percentage. AND [parte de] that money was given to González Panero ”.
“I always selected a single company [para cada adjudicación]. He never had two or three candidates. It didn’t work like that. It would seem amoral to me, ”Correa continued, describing some of his contacts. “In the case of a plot, the president of Sacyr Vallehermoso, Luis del Rivero, called me.” But he did not offer it to him, but to the constructor José Luis Ulibarri, also accused in this trial and with whom he had already agreed. “Business with mayors and businessmen was always done by Correa,” Pablo Crespo later confirmed.
The plot took advantage of the intense relationship between Correa and El Albondiguilla for years, but it began to deteriorate at a certain point.
– Why did the relationship with González Panero end? Asked the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office.
—Correa was very angry because he found out that Panero, with whom he had an agreement, was negotiating contracts with other people. Correa felt betrayed, rightly so. She broke off the relationship with him and ran the errands through Martín Morales […]. [En un caso, relacionado con la empresa Sufi]Panero even sent another intermediary to negotiate, and Correa felt delegitimized, ”Crespo replied.
In their confession writings, the plot leader and the former mayor also gave their version about it. “The relationship with González Panero was very complicated, he did not keep his word or code at all. He promised and guaranteed contracts left and right. He changed awards, even having promised them to an employer, if later another employer improved the gift. […] It could be summed up as amoral, ”says Correa. However, El Albondiguilla offers another point of view: “Criminal collaboration increased until 2005, the date on which I broke my personal and direct relationship with Correa —without meaning that I stopped submitting to the interests of the organization— because their claims were excessive and ambitious, in such a way that their proposals were already disproportionate and implied a greater risk of exposure (development of the PGOU, health campus, commercial area of Banco Santander, project on nursing homes…) ”.
“It has not been induced by the prosecutor”
The second session of the oral hearing began after 10:15 this Wednesday and, in its first part, it has served to end the stage of preliminary questions. A phase that left a key episode for the rest of the oral hearing on Tuesday: 17 of the 24 defendants admitted their involvement in the plot. On this situation, the representative of Anticorruption has wanted to pronounce now: “The prosecutor in no case has asked anyone to acknowledge anything.” “What they have decided they want to recognize, at no time has been induced by the prosecutor,” he said.
In addition to Crespo and Correa, José Luis Izquierdo, the Gürtel accountant; and Luis de Miguel, advisor to the plot. The latter has acknowledged that he was the one who “devised the entire corporate structure” of the corrupt network. The president of the court, José Antonio Mora Alarcón, has closed the session after 1:30 pm. The trial will continue this Thursday with the statement of the rest of the accused.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.