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Valencia city PP party dissolved over corruption probe and placed in hands of management committee
VALENCIA city council's right-wing PP party – now in opposition – has been dissolved and a management committee has taken over following the latest corruption scandal to come to light.
Once the initial hue and cry is over, the party will be completely refounded and every councillor replaced with someone else.
It will keep its name and logo, but the PP in Valencia city will comprise 100% new faces.
And the PP in the provincial council will be completely restructured, with current big bosses Juan José Medina and Emilio Llopis having been fired by the Regional Committee of Rights and Guarantees after they were fingered by the anti-fraud squad.
Guardia Civil officers, when they raided the city hall, walked into the PP's offices and ordered: “Stop what you're doing and take your hands off your keyboards.”
The public-sector-run business and finance promotion and management company Imelsa, which is 100% State-owned, is under the spotlight over suspicions of bribery, backhanders and inflated estimates meaning public funds went astray.
So far, 24 arrests have been made – all current or former members of the PP at local and national level, or company bosses they have dealt with – but all bar one, a business-owner, have been released with charges.
Councillors and consultants at the Valencia branch have now begun to be called to the Guardia Civil station for questioning.
Every one of those initially arrested has been ordered to pay a civil bail release covering their possible financial liabilities.
In the case of the former president of the provincial council or Diputación de Valencia, the PP's Alfonso Rus has been ordered to pay €2 million.
Current PP leader at provincial level and party spokesman for the city of Valencia Alfonso Novo has been ordered to appear in court on Wednesday this week over suspected money-laundering.
A total of 29 people are thought to be involved, although five of them have not yet been charged.
Imelsa is run by the Diputación which is still in the hands of the PP, even though the regional government is now led by the socialists under president Ximo Puig and the city council by left-wing Compromís under Joan Ribó.
The new parties have only been in power since summer 2015, but the PP's reign in both the regional and local government went on for 20 years.
Public works contracts dating back to 2003 are being analysed.
As well as Imelsa – run by María José Alcón, wife of former deputy mayor Alfonso Grau who is also facing trial for the embezzlement case involving the Infanta Cristina and her husband – the finger has also been pointed at the school construction company Ciegsa, which is also owned by the regional government, and the Jaume II El Just Foundation, run by María José Alcón's ex-husband Vicente Burgos.
Alcón and Burgos have both been charged.
Current MP for the PP at Diputación level Miquel Domínguez, former PP councillor Silvestre Senent, and current PP councillors María Ángeles Ramón-Llin, Félix Crespo, Alberto Mendoza, Cristóbal Grau, Vicente Igual, Beatriz Simón, María Jesús Puchalt and Lourdes Bernal are among those due for questioning.
As part of the inquiries, the Guardia Civil is investigating whether public figureheads and consultants within the PP made donations of €1,000 each to the party during the most recent local election campaign, which donations were then given back to them in cash.
Valencia's ex-mayoress Rita Barberá says she was 'stunned and shocked' at the news, and insists that in her 24 years as head of the city council she had never been involved in any public works contract rigging.
“I've never rigged a contract in my life!” She told reporters, adding that she was 'very nervous' and had not left her house in three days because it was surrounded by the media with microphones and cameras.
Ex-president of the regional government, former PP city mayor for Castellón Alberto Fabra, called the whole case 'shameful' and said he felt he could 'no longer vouch for anyone'.
Current deputy president of the region, Mònica Oltra (Compromís) said 'corruption, a police swoop and public inquiry' have been what has dissolved the PP which 'shows that, evidently, illegal commissions and financing were the party's daily bread'.
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