The head of the Court of Instruction No. 15 of Madrid has initiated preliminary proceedings against the leadership of the State Society of Industrial Participations (SEPI) for alleged embezzlement of public funds in the rescue of 53 million euros granted in March by the Government to the airline Plus Ultra, as El Español has advanced.
The dark spots of the state bailout of 53 million to the airline Plus Ultra
In an order dated April 8, Magistrate Esperanza Collazos indicates that “the denounced facts suggest the possible existence of a criminal offense.”
The investigation is based on a complaint by the pseusindicato Manos Limpias headed by Miguel Bernad, which is being tried in the National Court in the framework of the Ausbanc case. The judge has decreed these preliminary proceedings against the current vice president of SEPI, Bartolomé Lora, who was acting president of the body that manages the rescue fund for companies affected by the coronavirus when his management council gave the green light to help.
The judicial investigation is still in its initial phase. The magistrate has requested documentation in relation to the aforementioned complaint, without having yet called anyone to testify as investigated or witness. The order urges SEPI to identify the rest of the members of its board of directors, of which four secretaries of state are ex officio members.
The person in charge of managing the rescue fund for strategic companies affected by the pandemic is a management council chaired by the person who holds the presidency of SEPI, a position that Bartolomé was in office at the time the aid was approved.
The manager has served as vice president since the recent appointment of Belén Gualda as president of public holding. The managing council, in addition to the president of SEPI, includes the heads of three state secretariats: Economy and Business Support, Industry and Energy.
The rescue approved on March 9 by the Council of Ministers to that unknown company until a few months ago has generated a political storm due to the reduced market share of the airline and its shareholder ties with Venezuelan businessmen considered close to Nicolás Maduro.