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Ex-president of Balearic Islands testifies over Urdangarín fraud case
FORMER Balearic Island regional government president Jaume Matas was in court this morning facing interrogation over his possible role in the Nóos Institute public fund embezzlement case which centres on King Felipe's brother-in-law Iñaki Urdangarín.
Four other high-ranking politicians are also accused of playing a major part in inflating costs of sports, arts and entertainment events organised by the Nóos, which Urdangarín and his co-director Diego Torres pocketed and laundered through a firm the former owned jointly with his wife, the King's sister Cristina de Borbón.
All four of these politicians have pointed the finger at Matas, who is already charged in connection with several other corruption cases under investigation.
According to prosecutor Pedro Horrach, the contracts and agreements signed and stamped between Matas and Nóos were an 'orchestrated farce' on the former's part, and 'fruit of random policy decisions' aimed solely at 'benefiting, financially, certain specific people' whilst 'deliberately ignoring the principles of usefulness and public interest' which should take first priority in policy-making'.
Matas' subordinates within the regional government at the time of his role in the Nóos fraud – former director-general of sports José Luis 'Pepote' Ballester, ex-managing director of the Illesport Foundation Gonzalo Bernal, and Balearic Tourism Institute (Ibatur) MD, Juan Carlos Alía and its legal advisor Miquel Àngel Bonet – have all faced trial this week, some saying they regret their actions.
They said Matas' role was indispensable in fraudulently setting aside €1.2 million to celebrate the first ever Balearic Islands Forum in 2005, plus nearly €1.1m a second in 2006, €54,520 on researching the financial impact of the Banesto-Balearic Islands cycling team, €174,000 on setting up an office for the team and €116,566 on advertising them.
Bernal has admitted he was given orders by 'Pepote' in connection with the Nóos which 'broke the law', but which were fuelled by the fact that the face of the institute was then the Duke of Palma and a Royal.
Usually, orders like this came from the president himself, Bernal says.
Alía says he was ordered to pay €120,000 'in the presence of' the Infanta and her husband.
Bonet says he 'received a drastic instruction' from Matas which he 'should have refused to carry out', but did not.
Bernal says Nóos was hand-picked to organise events instead of the job being advertised and bids and applications invited.
Matas, who is already facing eight years in jail, admitted to having paid a commission to Urdangarín but has denied everything else.
Later this morning, the former accountant who worked for Nóos admitted Diego Torres had ordered him to fake some expenses for the Institute's tax declarations.
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