The keys to the commissions for the masks in Madrid

This Thursday the judge admitted for processing the Complaint of the Anticorruption Prosecutor against businessmen Luis Medina and Alberto Luceño. They are accused of pocketing six million dollars in commissions from the sale of masks and medical supplies to the Madrid City Council, during the start of the pandemic, in mid-March 2020.

In the complaint, Anticorruption abounds in the details about the scandal, for which the mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, has come out to give explanations and deny any mediation. We review the main keys of the case: who are the main people involved, what benefits did they obtain or what role has the city council played?

Who are the accused?

The Prosecutor’s Office is suing two people: Luis Medina Abascal and Alberto Luceno Ceron. Medina is the son of the Duke of Feria and Naty Abascal, and he was the person who contacted the Madrid City Council to offer his intermediation in the purchase of masks. He did it “taking advantage of his status of well-known character in public life and his friendship with a relative of the mayor of Madrid”, specifically Almeida’s cousin, according to the letter.

After the first contact between Medina and the general coordinator of Budgets and Human Resources -also a director of the Funeral and Cemetery Services Company-, it was Luceño who continued the negotiations with the person in charge of the consistory. He introduced himself as expert in importing products from the Asian marketwith factories in China at its disposal, and as the exclusive agent of the Malaysian company” through which the import was going to be carried out.

In addition, “he said he acted moved by the desire to collaborate in the fight against the pandemic.” Actually, the text of the complaint continues, “neither had significant experience in import business nor did it have factories in Chinajust as he was neither the exclusive agent of any Malaysian company nor was he acting out of altruistic intent”.

They are accused of fraud, false commercial document and money laundering.

What did they sell to the Madrid City Council?

The City Council and the Malaysian company signed three contracts to acquire the following materials: one million KN95 masks, for which they paid 6.6 million dollars; 2.5 million nitrile gloves, worth five million dollars and 250,000 rapid tests for a price of 4,250,000 dollars.

The real price of the masks was 2.7 million, so the defendants took a net profit of four million, that is, “148% of the actual price of the product”reads the writing.

In the case of the gloves, Luceño had assured that they were good quality gloves that covered most of the arm. However, when they arrived they were from “poor quality and only reached to the wrist.”

This aroused the anger of the Madrid councilor, who asked Luceño to solve the problem and sent him a photo of a supermarket in which it was seen that gloves similar to those that the City Council had bought for two dollars a pair, were being sold at eight cents. Luceño, “to try to please the City Council given the failure of the operation”, returned four million shortly after that corresponded to the commissions that it was intended to share with Medina.

In the case of the tests, these were sold at a premium of 244%. Of the 4,250,000 euros paid by the council, three million went to commissions. In addition, of the 250,000 tests, almost a quarter (60,000) were unusable due to their low level of sensitivity (66.7%), and another important part (115,000) were, at least, also of doubtful efficacy due to their low level of sensitivity (80%).

60% of the price of the masks, 81% in the case of gloves and almost 71% in the case of tests “corresponded to commissions that the defendants were going to receive,” says the Prosecutor’s Office.

How did you contact the Madrid City Council?

One of the aspects in which the mayor of Madrid has made the most emphasis during the press conference this Thursday has been in the contact that the City Council established with the businessmen. According to Almeida, Luis Medina sent two emails to the Coordination mailbox of the Mayor’s Office, one on March 18 and another on March 19. It was in these emails, he continued, where Medina “provides her mobile phone number.” The emails were redirected according to the protocol established at the time and reached the person in charge of studying the “feasibility” of the contracts, who was the one who later contacted the employer by phone.

According to the City Council, he was Almeida’s cousin through a common acquaintance with Medina who informed him of the mail to which he had to send his information. The role of this relative remains there, the mayor has insisted, who has denied “any type of intermediation.”

What did Medina and Luceño do with the money?

The two accused by the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor took six million dollars in commissions of the 11.9 million paid by the City Council. The complaint details the use given to that money by Medina, who obtained one million, and Luceño, who earned 5.1 million dollars.

With the money received from Malaysia, Alberto Luceño paid 60,000 euros for six nights in a luxury hotel in Marbellabetween August 10 and 16, 2020. Also purchased three Rolex watches worth 42,450 euros, and seven vehicles: an Aston Martin, a Ferrari, two Mercedes, a Range Rover, a KTM and a BMW worth more than a million euros.

On behalf of a company to which he charged the collection of commissions, the defendant paid for a house in Pozuelo with three parking spaces worth 1.1 million euros. He also bought five other cars: an Aston Martin, a Porsche, a Lamborghini, a McLaren and a Mercedes, for a total of one million euros. As part of the price, Luceño gave the seller some of the cars that he had previously bought from him.

As for Medina, a yacht called “Feria” was bought, registered in Gibraltar and for which he paid 325,000 euros. He also bought two bank bonds for 200,000 euros each.

What role has the Madrid City Council had?

“The swindled is the Madrid City Council”, the mayor of the capital insisted this Thursday at a press conference. His version is that, in the midst of an emergency at the start of the pandemic, and in a struggle by all the administrations to obtain medical supplies that he has described as “jungle”, the council did not have time to check the price of the masks or he knew where the money would go.

“Maybe we were wrong.but the only thing that guided us was to protect the municipal public servants who went out into the street every day”, something “perfectly assumable”, according to Almeida. The city council is going to appear as an affected party in the case and considers it “outrageous” the use of funds paid to Medina and Luceño.

The mayor has insisted that Medina did not have “any kind of friendly relationship” with his cousin“when you don’t know if he was a cousin or brother of the relative you are talking about,” he stated, referring to statements by the accused in an interview with The confidential in which the businessman refers to this relative as Almeida’s brother.

The deputy mayor, Begoña Villacís, appeared shortly after and announced that Ciudadanos will request a second audit to investigate these events. “These errors cannot occur again and we want to know if this is the only emergency contract or if there are others that, once reviewed, could give rise to more surprises”, he stated.

Who has reported the case?

As Cadena SER has advanced and Almeida has later confirmed, it was the banks and not the city council who initially denounced the facts. Alerted by the large income in the accounts of the two businessmen, they notified the capital prevention service, Sepblac, and this in turn warned the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office.

Asked about this, Almeida justified himself by explaining that the council made a single payment to the Leno company without knowing the role of the commission agents. “We can hardly raise the alarm when We are unaware of the relationship that could be generated between these two people and the company”he has stated.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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