Corruption: Spain's battle against the bad eggs
As a former judge is jailed for bribery and extortion in the country's worst judicial scandal, we examine what Spain is doing to prevent high-level political corruption.Former judge Luis Pascual Estevill was jailed for nine years and fined EUR 1.8 million after being convicted of leading the largest corruption racket discovered in the Spanish judicial system in 25 years.
Estevill, a former judge in Barcelona and one-time member of the General Council of the Judiciary, was found to have accepted bribes and helped run an extortion racket between 1990 and 1994.
A former high-profile Catalan lawyer, Joan Piqué Vidal, was also sentenced to seven years imprisonment and fined EUR 900,000 in relation to the case.
According to the court ruling, Estevill and Piqué Vidal abused their positions to demand backhanders from businesses involved in lawsuits.
The extortion allowed them to accumulate hundreds of thousands of euros in bribes over the four-year period.
As part of the sentence, they have been ordered to compensate victims with amounts ranging between EUR 3,000 and EUR 90,000.
Several other people found guilty of participating in the scam, including Estevill's son, were fined and sentenced to up to one year in prison.
This is just the lastest in a long line of high-profile scandals in Spain.
Determined to put a stop to the rot, the Socialist government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has announced plans to introduce code of conduct in public life.
It will mean the crusty titles to which Spanish officialdom has been attached since the time of Don Quijote are to disappear under the rules of 'good governance'.
No longer will ministers and senior officials be addressed as 'exelencia', but as plain senor and senora.
The ethics code, which could be in place by the middle of next year, will aim at 'transparency and austerity' in public life.
Politicians and officials will be expected to hold only one job, rather than accumulating many positions, as some do at present.
And they will not be supposed to hold any outside position that limits their availability or dedication to their political work.
Politicians and senior officials will be expected to reveal their wealth and place their investments in a blind trust. They should accept only nominal gifts where courtesy demands it, and refrain from ostentatious or inappropriate behaviour.
The new code of conduct comes after Spaniards told an international poll on corruption that they believed their politicians were the most corrupt section in society.
To many an outsider, this might seem a predictable reaction; politicians are never the most popular characters in any society.
But a look at recent form would explain much - Spain has been dogged by scandals. Indeed, a series of high-level political scandals were what did for the last Socialist government of Felipe Gonzalez, who lost power in 1996.
Here we detail the major scandals of recent years.
The ex-secretary of state for security
Ordered to pay back EUR 3,876,525, he has had had three houses and property seized but these do not cover this sum.
Camacho, who reputedly had a collection of 100 Armani suits, paid a fine of EUR 300,000 by selling his mother's and brothers' flats and served just three years. But none of the EUR 108m has been paid back.
Estevill was jailed for nine years, fined EUR 1.8m. He has already been convicted twice of perverting the course of justice and false imprisonment and was jailed in 2001 for seven years and ordered to pay EUR 601,000. All property seized but not all fines or compensation paid back.
The council chief/ football boss
Gil, jailed in 2000 for just six months for corruption, died this year. Munoz has been ordered to pay back EUR 24 million. So far all his financial assets have been seized but the cash is still outstanding.
Allowed out of jail for daughter's wedding and his wife could see him inside for 'conjugal visits'. So far he has only paid back EUR 260,000, though he still owes houses valued at EUR 10.21 million. Paid off fines of EUR 3.6 million from separate case by giving up paintings by Picasso, Georges Braque and Juan Gris. Has brokered a deal whereby if he pays of EUR 22.6 million he will be out of jail by 2009.
Jailed in 1998 for 28 years for embezzlement, fraud and tax evasion, he was fined EUR 13.09 million. Prison sentence cut to 20 years. So far he has paid off just EUR 3.6 million and has an easy regime in prison.
updated January 2005[Copyright Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news, Corruption