The judicial investigation of the alleged fraud committed by the commission agents Luis Medina and Alberto Luceño has caused the news of a second deception to the Madrid City Council to spread. A certain Philippe Haim Solomon offered 500,000 masks to the Consistory for 2.5 million euros almost at the same time that his son Naty Abascal began to rub his hands after speaking with the mayor's cousin. When Martínez-Almeida's team realized that Solomon's masks were useless, 1,250,000 euros of public money had already flown to the bank account of the alleged New York-based businessman. A judge from Madrid is now looking for him in the United Kingdom.
The two alleged scams to the Consistory of the capital run as parallel as the opposition is aware of both offers in the same WhatsApp chat that opened on the morning of March 24, 2020. The acquisition of medical supplies was in a hurry given the hundreds of daily deaths in Madrid and the municipal government asks the political groups to give their approval to several offers received.
In the chat there is talk of a Malaysian company, Leno, and its offer of masks, those of Medina and Luceño. The municipal spokeswoman, Inmaculada Sanz, speaks of a second offer: "500,000 FFP2 masks are in London set aside for the City Council." You have to advance 50% of the 2.5 million. With hardly any more details, the groups give their approval to all the operations.
The head of the Court of Instruction number 30 of Madrid has just reopened the investigation into the scam of those masks that were waiting in London for the City Council staff. He began to investigate the complaint that the Consistory itself presented in Plaza de Castilla a year later, on March 5, 2021. The complaint attached a report that the Municipal Police had prepared during all that time and that details the accumulation of irregularities of the product received, in short, unusable material that either did not have the established health certificates, or had directly falsified them.
The court began looking for the CEO of the firm with which the sale had been agreed, an alleged New York-based consultant called Sinclair & Wilde, headed by Philippe Haim Solomon. But in New York there was no trace of the businessman and Judge Jorge Israel Bartolomé was forced to provisionally file the case for lack of a known perpetrator.
Until last April, the US authorities provided the necessary information for its reopening: the alleged swindler, with a history of check theft and money launderingis of French nationality, also calls himself Victor Chain Hababou and lives in the United Kingdom.
The summary of this second mask case, to which you have had access elDiario.es, allows us to establish a chronology of the scam through the correspondence that those responsible for the Madrid City Council, with its Treasury Councilor at the head, maintained with Philippe Haim Solomon for six months. The exchange ends with Elena Collado, the purchasing manager, helplessly requesting the reimbursement of the 1.2 million euros advanced in August 2020.
One day before the WhatsApp chat with the opposition was created, Engracia Hidalgo, the Consitorio Treasury delegate, writes in English to Philippe Haim Solomon. It is March 23, 2020. Hidalgo explains that "as a government agency" it needs ministerial approval to transfer the agreed advance, but that they already have "the green light for the price and quantity." She also announces that there is going to be a meeting of the "crisis cabinet" and that it is only "a matter of time". "We hope to close this matter this afternoon," she adds. And he says goodbye wishing between the two "a long and fruitful relationship".
The Madrid City Council has been defending that the purchase of material from Luis Medina and Alberto Luceño had the approval of the opposition, in reference to that meeting of the board of directors of the funeral company held at dawn by WhatsApp. The opposition alleges that the information was very scarce and that there was no opportunity to monitor the process given the extreme urgency of acquiring material. The email from Engracia Hidalgo to Solomon confirms that the City Council took it for granted that it would obtain the support of the political groups of the Consistory. On March 27, the Public Funeral Home orders the payment of 1,250,000 euros to Sinclair & Wilde's account at Bank of America.
The City Council assures that it informed the representatives of the opposition in the board of directors of the Funeral Home of what happened with Medina and Luceño, as well as with Philippe H. Solomon. The political groups deny it. None of the cases transpired, in the case of the Spanish commission agents until elDiario.es revealed on March 31, 2022 the existence of a secret anti-corruption investigation; and in the case of Solomon when the judge admitted the complaint of the Prosecutor's Office and weeks later the content of the case emerged.
The epistolary exchange is recovered with a communication from Solomon in which he assures that his company is "committed to fulfilling, in any circumstance, the contract with the Municipal Funeral Services Company for the benefit and safety of the populations of Madrid and Spain."
The alleged scammer reminded the Madrid Funeral Home of the obligation to pay the remaining 50% once the merchandise arrived in Madrid. That happened on April 23 and that's where the problems began. In its report, the Municipal Police concludes that the documentation that accompanied the masks "improperly used the CE marking", which would constitute a crime against industrial property. It also points out that certifications from the EU and the Spanish State were missing and that, however, other documents appeared that correspond to products such as cosmetics, which the agents described as a possible crime of fraud.
This is the date that heads the email that the commercial and financial director of the Funeral Home sends to Bankinter for the "retrocession of the transfer" sent as an advance to Philippe Haim Solomon due to a "breach of contract".
It can only be due to an error because at that time the masks had not yet arrived and the City Council had not been able to verify that they were unusable. That email may refer to the request to cancel the transfer that was ordered on March 27, the advance of 1.2 million.
The Madrid City Council does not respond to any questions about documentation or any other issue that appears in the summary "because it is judicialized." In any case, in the order to reopen the case, the judge establishes the amount defrauded from the Madrid City Council at 1.2 million euros, with which the second payment was not made, or if it was completed, it could be reversed.
The City Council's purchasing manager, Elena Collado, writes to Philippe Haim Solomon's corporate management: “Dear Philippe; We have been waiting for several days, as promised, for the certificate of conformity of the FFP2 masks. I have sent you several messages that you have not answered. That is why, if we do not receive the appropriate documentation as urgently as possible, we must agree to return the product and the money.
The date of the email means that, between April and August, the City Council was demanding a certification from Solomon that would never arrive and that during those devastating months of the pandemic he was unable to use the half million masks received. There were still seven months left for the complaint in court with the report of the Municipal Police.