| THREE federal regions in Spain have been fined multi-million sums by the European Union for misuse of grants.
The Comunidad Valenciana has been hit by a 116-million-euro penalty and Andalucía for 219 million, whilst the Basque Country is set to lose 28 million euros.
Although they will not have to find the money and hand it over, this will be deducted from future EU grants.
According to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), audits found 'recurring infractions' between 1994 and 1999 in all three regions relating to use of funds from Brussels for development, growth and infrastructure.
Most of these involved the way in which contracts for building and development were awarded to companies, where set criteria was not adhered to.
This included amending initial job contracts without prior authorisation, giving jobs to the same firms without putting these out to public bid first so that other companies had the chance to apply for them, and not publishing adverts for the jobs in the EU daily bulletin as required by law.
Finishing works after the deadlines and failing to pay up on time, and failing to provide full financial information and receipts to allow a complete audit were among other breaches found by the ECJ.
The case has been ongoing for some years and Spain has appealed, but in the end the ECJ rejected all Spain's arguments and appeal channels are now closed.
Photograph: The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg