Thursday, February 25, 2010

ESTEPONA: MONEY DOWN THE ANDORRA DRAIN

I have to file nine main news reports for the newspaper each week on the area from Fuengirola to Manilva and inland to Ronda. That is no problem – there is plenty of news about. What is a problem is that there are so many town hall corruption reports on Marbella and Estepona alone - largely in the Malaya and Astapa cases - that many weeks they could take up my full quota.

In recent months I have written many a report of the trials and tribulations of Estepona’s town hall and how that affects the residents. Schools have had no toilet paper or bleach. The fire brigade has most of its vehicles off the road as the town hall can’t afford to repair them. Municipal offices have had their phones and internet links cut off. The local police have had no fuel for their patrol cars. And so on because Estepona is bust.

Given that scenario I suspect the residents of Estepona, some of whom read this page, will be delighted to learn that over ten million euros of what they might consider as their money is sitting in a bank account in Andorra.

The funds are said to be those of the former director of town planning in Estepona between 2003 and 2007, Pedro López. It was hidden in accounts in the name of his family. According to the National Police the money comes from constructors who paid “commissions” to the town hall in order to have building licences granted. The accounts have now been blocked by the Andorra authorities.

Ironically López appeared before the Estepona court investigating the ‘Astapa’ town planning corruption case on Monday. The purpose of his visit was to enlarge on the testimony he gave on first being arrested on June 17, 2008. It would be interesting to know if he commented on the discovery of the Andorra funds. For now we will not know as judge Jesús Torres is maintaining the secrecy clamp down so we will have to wait to the case finally comes to trial.

There is a backlog of corruption cases waiting to be heard in the Málaga provincial court. First up is Ballena Blanca, then Malaya this April or May – the latter being the biggest corruption case in Spain’s history, which is saying something. So Astapa will have to wait its turn – but for the people of Estepona seeking justice for their embattled town that day cannot come soon enough.

2 comments:

Tony Murphy said...

As an architect I have had much contact with Estepona Town Hall,sadly to say,most of it being a frustrating experience.
It seems to me that Estepona Town Hall is it's own worst enemy.Their revenue comes from issuing licenses for various activities and collecting taxes.I currently have an application in Estepona for a music license for a live music bar.We have already obtained the building license for renovations which were completed 20 months ago. The town Hall officials say that there is no paperwork pending from our side but cannot tell me why after 18 months there is no license and no explanation.At the same time the Estepona local police have continually harrased the owner over his lack of a music license.There is obviously a fee to be paid once the license is available, which my client is eager to pay.However the Town Hall don't seem to realise that getting their finger out could actually improve things.But then nobody is prepared to take responsibility or prepared to make a decision.IT'S A JOKE - BUT IT'S NOT FUNNY.

'Sancho' said...

The problem is that once a major corruption case been uncovered, as is the case in Estepona, the new administration then proceeds at a snails pace because they want to be ultra careful everything is in order as everybody from Madrid, the regional government, prosecutors etc are watching. Prospero and myself were recently musing over a municipality we both know well that hasn't been implicated in any scams but the young, new mayor is scared of breaking any law - so ironically nothing is getting done at all.