Corruption in Madrid City Hall "rampant"
23 November 2007, Madrid - Corruption "ran rampant" in Madrid City Hall for years until police swooped on a cadre of civil servants earlier this month, accusing them of running a racket to obtain bribes from businesses and individuals in exchange for municipal licenses, court documents show.
23 November 2007
Madrid - Corruption "ran rampant" in Madrid City Hall for years until police swooped on a cadre of civil servants earlier this month, accusing them of running a racket to obtain bribes from businesses and individuals in exchange for municipal licenses, court documents show.
Investigators' reports, now being made public for the first time, suggest that none of the Popular Party mayors who have governed the capital since 1991 should feel free of guilt for the lack of oversight that allowed corrupt civil servants to operate with impunity. So far 18 people, many of them long-term employees of City Hall's environmental affairs and urban planning departments, have been charged in the probe.
"If this investigation were to continue it seems obvious that many more names [...] would be implicated in this corruption, which for many years has run rampant with total impunity throughout the hierarchy of civil servants at Madrid City Hall," a Civil Guard report states.
It goes on to accuse the suspects of "enriching themselves" on the backs of people who "only wanted to open their businesses and work in peace, but were instead obliged to hemorrhage money and watch as their assets were ransacked without compassion by civil servants hungry for quick and tasty bites."
The civil servants, in collaboration with a network of solicitors, architects and others, would push through building and business licenses in record time in exchange for backhanders. Investigators are concentrating their attention on 187 particularly suspicious licenses that were obtained in less than a month, when the average time is two years.
[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL./ FRANCISCO MERCADO 2007]
Subject: Spanish news