The judge prosecutes Zaplana for criminal organization and handling 15 million in commissions
Eduardo Zaplana, when he was arrested on May 22, 2018 at his home in Valencia, which was searched.
Eduardo Zaplana, when he was arrested on May 22, 2018 at his home in Valencia, which was searched.Monica Torres

The judge has put an end to the investigation of the case of political corruption wasteland, whose main investigation is Eduardo Zaplana, former president of the Generalitat and former Minister of Labor in the Government of José María Aznar, of the PP. In her order of transformation to an abbreviated procedure, a step prior to the opening of the oral trial, the head of Court Number 8 of Valencia considers that “there are indications” that some of the twenty people investigated “took advantage of the political positions held by over several years, together with existing companies and also helped by individual entrepreneurs” and “facilitated the obtaining of public contracts, obtaining economic benefits for all parties” that “subsequently were the object of money laundering and other crimes”.

The alleged behaviors “were directed by Zaplana”, together with a group close to the former president of friends or people who had had a relationship “because of the political position” he held and “the relationships he had from his public position”, all “with in order to obtain illicit profits. The public tenders after the privatization of the technical inspections of vehicles (ITV) and the territorial planning of the wind farms turned out to be “à la carte” so that the interested companies, “prior to the stipulation of the commission, were made with said awards”.

The judge also processes around twenty people, including her successor at the head of the Generalitat and former president of Bancaja, José Luis Olivas, from the PP; the former chief of staff of Zaplana, Juan Francisco García; the business brothers Vicente and Juan Cotino, nephews of the former Director General of the Police with Aznar Juan Cotino, who died in 2020; and the alleged figureheads Joaquín Barceló and Francisco Grau. On the contrary, he has decreed the provisional dismissal of the case for Zaplana’s daughter, María, and his wife Rosa Barceló, seeing no evidence of a crime.

“The money detected after the investigation and obtained by illicit commissions and that has not been recovered in its entirety since part of it was intervened by the Andorran authorities, and another part delivered to the interested party himself, where there were accounts in the name of Joaquín Barceló as figurehead of Eduardo Zaplana, would amount to more than 15,000,000 euros, “says the judge’s order. After the confession of his alleged money launderer, the Uruguayan Fernando Belhot, he “transferred to the Court the amount of the Swiss accounts, money that belonged to Eduardo Zaplana and that he managed for him as stated in his statement, the amount of this transfer being 6,734,026 .1 euros”, says the car.

The money obtained by facilitating these contracts was subsequently used for new illicit operations, in which companies such as Costera del Glorio, Medlevante, Gesdesarrollos Integrales, Turnis Sylvatica and Dobles Figuras were involved, all of them cited in the order. The complex circuit of money that traveled from one pocket to another, to foreign accounts in Luxembourg or the Netherlands and to opaque entities makes Zaplana and the rest of those investigated possible perpetrators of the alleged crimes of criminal organization, money laundering, bribery , prevarication and documentary falsehood.

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The judge cites in her car as director of the plot the former minister of the PP, who was arrested for this case on May 22, 2018 and remained in prison until February of the following year. However, the investigation had actually begun three years earlier, during the investigation of another corruption network, the Imelsa case, when Marcos Benavent, the self-styled “junkie of the money”, some papers found in a house that had belonged to the former president of the Consell were seized. The documents detailed the amounts that the candidates had to contribute to an award and the amount that they had to indicate in their specifications.

These annotations focused the researchers’ gaze on the privatization of the ITVs and the territorial organization of the Wind Farms, initiatives promoted under the Zaplana government in the Generalitat. The plot of politicians, businessmen, public officials, trusted people and an alleged figurehead, Joaquín Barceló, designed, says the order, “a la carte contests” in the adjudication of these services for companies such as those that formed the Sedesa Group, owned de Cotino and his nephews, Vicente Cotino Escrivá and José Cotino Escrivá, with whom the commissions were agreed and who ended up taking over the public contracts.

While discharging the profits, Zaplana was always “above all hidden in the shadow of all kinds of activity, in order to avoid possible responsibilities and since he was publicly known,” the order continues. He distributed small portions of the money among his friends and acquaintances to recruit them for the cause and put Barceló as administrator of the companies and owner of the accounts that served to obscure the transit of profits to tax havens.

Aznar’s former minister was getting rich while he was “outside, formally, and free of responsibilities. The map of shell companies is divided into companies in Spain, Uruguay, Panama and Luxembourg, and accounts opened in countries such as Andorra and Luxembourg. Later, if necessary, the network had set up two companies, Medlevante SL and Gesdesarrollos Integrales SL, so that the money would return to Spain once laundered.

“Mitsouko Flerida Henríquz, personal secretary of Eduardo Zaplana for years and knowledgeable about his criminal activities, also collaborated in this framework,” says the order, as well as the former regional deputy of the PP, Elvira Suanzez, a friend of the former minister and his brother Saturnino .

The judge gives the parties a period of ten days to formulate an indictment requesting the opening of an oral trial or the dismissal of the case, in a resolution that is not final and against which there is an appeal.

Zaplana was arrested on May 22, 2018 and released on February 7, 2019, although of those 259 days, 51 were spent at the La Fe Hospital in Valencia, where he was assisted to control various ailments that are a consequence of the leukemia that he has suffered since 2015.

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