The Plus Ultra airline, accused of its rescue by the Government

The head of the court of instruction number 15 of Madrid has summoned the legal representative Plus Ultra for next June 15 to respond for the airline as investigated in the case about the alleged irregularities in the granting of 53 million euros of aid by the Government of the rescue fund for strategic companies affected by the pandemic.

In an order dated May 25, advanced by Vozpopuli, Judge Esperanza Collazos has set June 15 to take a statement as accused of the airline, to clarify whether the company committed an alleged crime of embezzlement and prevarication, thus attending to Vox’s request, which appears in the case as a popular accusation, along to the PP and the Clean Hands union.

The magistrate has made this decision after taking a statement on March 29 from the experts of both parties, whose previous reports differed in their conclusions on whether or not the airline met the requirements to access this aid within the framework of the Support Fund. to the Solvency of the Strategic Companies of the State Society of Industrial Participations (SEPI).

Thus, while the experts appointed by the court pointed out that Plus Ultra was a company with signs of insolvency at the end of 2019, which made it impossible for it to apply for the rescue funds, the opinion of SEPI and the consultants Deloitte and DC Advisors, They endorsed that the airline was not in cause for dissolution at the time they obtained the aid.

The main point of controversy, as could be verified in the confrontations, is to clarify why part of the public aid granted was allocated to a payment made to Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). The team of experts that advised SEPI defended that disbursement because the debt with PDVSA had not been paid before due to the embargo and international sanctions and that the Venezuelan state oil company is the fuel supplier of all the companies that operate in Caracas. , not just Plus Ultra, so the problem with payments affected all airlines that fly to Venezuela. On the contrary, the independent experts of the court observed that it was not very common for the airline to have prioritized this payment, when it had to attend to more urgent operational expenses.

The judge has not considered the requests of the State Attorney and the Madrid Provincial Prosecutor’s Office, which requested the file when considering that there is no evidence of the commission of any allegedly criminal act. State attorney Rosa María Seoane assured that it could be “concluded that the expert report does not provide any element that could, even indirectly, lead to doubt the status of ‘company not in crisis’ of Plus Ultra at the end of 2019, and much least remote indications of constitutive element of any criminal type. For its part, the Madrid Prosecutor’s Office concluded that there were no “convincing elements” that would allow changing the criteria set forth by the Public Ministry in its previous writings.

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Reactions of the airline and the PP

The airline has assured through a statement after learning of the judge’s decision to charge the company, that on June 15 it will give a statement in court and has assured that it is “satisfied” with the possibility of presenting its position, with the ” He is fully convinced of the legality of the aid and of being able to demonstrate, once again, that he met all the requirements to access the SEPI loans”.

Plus Ultra also expresses its wish that “this is one more step towards the necessary completion of a procedure that has become very mediatic for purely political reasons.” It also ensures that the court has been “favorable to the non-need for the reports that Plus Ultra Líneas Aéreas is presenting to SEPI to be provided in the procedure”, as requested by Vox as the plaintiff.

For her part, the general secretary of the PP, Cuca Gamarra, has highlighted that the judge’s request reinforces doubts about the rescue of Plus Ultra, aid that was denied to key Spanish companies for the national economy. In that sense, from the PP they consider that the imputation to Plus Ultra is “one of the greatest examples” of the “inefficiency” and “incompetence” of the Government when it comes to distributing aid to strategic companies.

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