Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I stay today on the subject of corruption.

Yesterday I touched on the ‘Astapa’ scandal in Estepona. Today I move one municipality to the east and arrive in Marbella home to the “Ballena Blanca”, “Hidalgo” and “Malaya” corruption and money laundering cases.

The biggest of these is “Malaya” and it is also the most important as it involves the defrauding of the town hall and the people of Marbella rather than just common or garden fraud, money laundering etc.

Now the alleged mastermind behind the “Malaya” scam is Juan Antonio Roca – the one time director of town planning at the town hall. The judge in the case, Óscar Pérez , has decreed that the money raised from the sale of the 415 works of art held by Roca can be used to pay off his huge 6.3 million euros debt to the tax authority, Hacienda.

Two things concern me about this.

First, not being an art expert, I know that valuing and establishing the authenticity of a painting or sculpture is a very difficult business. Indeed works of art that Roca owned that were deemed priceless now turn out to be copies. So how does the tax authority know it is actually getting value for its owed money?

Second, and far more fundamental, is the fact that these art pieces were probably purchased from Roca’s ill-gotten gains from the town of Marbella. Therefore if they are to be sold off surely the money should go towards paying off Marbella’s huge debts that are crippling the town.

The legacy of the GIL, post-GIL and alleged Roca corruption will be with the people of Marbella for many years to come. Thousands are living in homes bought in good faith that are deemed illegal –some will even be demolished. If there is any money to be recouped (and there is any justice) it should first go to easing the burden on the people of Marbella – the government can wait its turn, but it won’t.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seems quite obvious that Roca was ripped off by the various art dealers he bought his collections from and under present market conditions will be worth well under half he paid for it, if that. With that amount of cash at his disposal he could hardly expose himself to honest brokers. The collection of rare animals he shot and displayed is even more nauseating. However, the potential involvement of the Junta de Andalucia is being pushed under the carpet, despite the acronym Malaya, which stands for Malaga to Ayamonte. They must have known about it ages ago?