EU suspends aid over Catalan corruption scandal
14 March 2005, BRUSSELS-The European Union will not grant more cash help for Spain until after the investigation into alleged corruption in the former regional authority in Catalonia.
14 March 2005
BRUSSELS-The European Union will not grant more cash help for Spain until after the investigation into alleged corruption in the former regional authority in Catalonia.
Ana Paula Laissey, spokeswoman for the EU's regional affairs office, said: "For the moment, we are not going to take any decision before we have the results of this internal investigation."
The move follows allegations by the present Catalan regional prime minister, Pasqual Maragall, that the former government, led by the right-of-centre CiU, took cuts of three percent from every public contract awarded during its 20 years in power.
Maragall was forced to retract the allegations, but an inquiry has begun to investigate if the former Catalan authority was guilty of graft.
After Maragall's allegations, a small businessman, Juan Antonio Salguero, owner of a Catalan construction, firm told public prosecutors he paid 20 percent "commissions" to the Barcelona public housing firm Adigsa for 18 projects carried out in the city in recent years.
And a report by an independent auditor said the former authority had not followed European Union regulations.
The auditing firm Faura-Casas Auditors-Consultors said in a report that the Convergence and Union party (CiU) failed to follow European Union regulations over its last year in power when hiring construction companies.
The EU anti-fraud office and the internal audit office of the European Commission have been monitoring the political crisis in Catalonia in north-east Spain.
The move comes just as the EU was about to decide regional funding between 2007-13.
An EU source told the Spanish daily El Mundo: "They are shocked by what has happened in Catalonia and have decided to check all those important regional projects not only connected with Catalonia but the rest of the EU."
Maragall, the Socialist head of the Generalitat, or Catalonian regional government, made the accusations during a debate in the region's parliament over the scandal of a landslide caused by work on extending the metro system.
Poorly planned works on the metro system in the Carmel area of Barcelona caused a landslide which left 1,000 people homeless.
Two senior public figures at the centre of the affair have already resigned.
Residents of Carmel in the Catalan capital were forced to leave their home after a landslide caused by work on an extension to the metro line last month.
Judge Elisabet Castelló opened the investigation into the state-run agency GISA, which is behind the metro extension, the private construction companies FCC, Comsa and Copisa Constructora Pirenaica, who worked on the project, and another management company TEC-4, as well as the firm involved in the geological survey of the land, Geocontrol.
The regional Catalan government or Generalitat is also implicated in the fiasco.
The companies have been asked to pay a surety of EUR 100 million into court.
But the cost of rebuilding scores of homes and the area is expected to be twice this amount.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news