Spanish deputy PM's associate resigns over water firm graft probe

22nd January 2016, Comments 0 comments

Spain's deputy prime minister on Friday announced the resignation of one of her main associates tainted by a corruption scandal at a state-run water company he once oversaw.

Speaking after a weekly cabinet meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said her under-secretary, Federico Ramos de Armas, had tabled his resignation on Friday morning "to defend his honour".

Ramos de Armas is linked to a scandal over the allocation of contracts by Acuamed, which is tasked with contracting, constructing, purchasing and operating public water works for Mediterranean river basins.

The company comes under the ministry of agriculture and environment and Ramos de Armas was secretary of state for the environment and president of Acuamed between 2011 and 2015 when an alleged fraud at the firm took place.

Police on Monday raised the offices of the company in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Murcia and arrested 13 people including the director of the company and four executives at the firm.

They are suspected of fraudulently allocating building projects and falsifying certifications in order to inflate payments to contractors, mainly large building firms, in exchange for gifts such as trips to Turkey and hair transplants.

Spanish media have reported that Ramos de Armas took part in at least one meeting where such a deal was ironed out.

The case is the latest in a string of corruption scandals that has fuelled voter anger and led to the rise of two new parties, anti-austerity Podemos and market friendly Ciudadanos, in an inconclusive December general election.

Podemos finished in third place and Ciudadanos came in fourth.

The two parties, which focused heavily on the need to fight corruption, took votes away from Spain's two traditional parties, the Socialists and the conservative Popular Party which have alternated in power for over three decades.

© 2016 AFP

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