Top Spanish singer jailed for money laundering

21st November 2014, Comments 0 comments

One of Spain's best-known singers, Isabel Pantoja, began serving a two-year prison term on Friday for money laundering after her court appeals were rejected.

The 58-year-old, a fixture of Spain's gossip press who has sold over six million albums, arrived at a women's prison in Alcala de Guadaira east of Seville in a car with tinted windows before the glare of a mob of photographers.

Pantoja was sentenced to two years in prison last year and fined 1.15 million euros ($1.44 million) after a court found her guilty of laundering money on behalf of her former boyfriend Julio Munoz, a one-time mayor of the resort city of Marbella on Spain's Costa del Sol.

Munoz is serving a seven year prison sentence after he was found guilty of running a scheme that provided building permits in the glitzy southern beach resort in return for bribes.

The scandal, baptised "Malaya", broke in March 2006, two years before the collapse of a decade-long property bubble in Spain which threw millions of people out of work.

Some 50 city officials and business executives implicated in the scandal were imprisoned or given hefty fines.

Under Spanish law prison sentences of two years or less are usually not carried out if the accused has no criminal history but it remains up to the courts to decide whether or not to suspend the sentence.

Pantoja's son Kiko Rivera, a D.J. and singer, has taken to social media, saying she has been made into a scapegoat and is being treated unfairly.

Her imprisonment comes as Spain is rocked by a series of corruption scandals involving politicians of all political stripes, businesses, football clubs and even the king's sister which have fueled a sense of impunity.

It follows the jailing earlier this month of the former president of Spanish football club Barcelona, Josep Lluis Nunez, for tax fraud.

A native of Triana, a Seville neighbourhood that breeds flamenco artists, Pantoja launched her singing career when still in her teens.

Her notoriety increased in 1983 when she married the famous bullfighter Francisco Rivera "Paquirri".

But a year later he was killed in the ring and the glamorous Pantoja became known as "the widow of Spain".

© 2014 AFP

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