September 19, 2020

The former lawyer who denounced Podemos, to the judge about the “self-contracts” with Neurona: “I cannot prove it”


The former Podemos lawyer who has taken the party to court for a wide range of alleged financial irregularities acknowledged before the judge that he has no proof of many of them and that part of his complaint is based on “rumors” or on what commented people from the party itself or others like IU, which was part of the United We Can electoral coalition. One of the issues that José Manuel Calvente denounced was the supposedly fictitious hiring of the Neurona consultancy, which he relates to the party’s co-founder, Juan Carlos Monedero. Calvente maintains in his initial complaint that there could be “illegal hiring” to simulate expenses and thus take “commissions”. But before the judge he says that he has no evidence of these “self-contracts” in which he implicates the Secretary of Communication, Juan Manuel del Olmo: “I cannot prove it, they have told me.”

We can report a "prospective research" and demands that the Madrid Court annul the case due to its financing

We can denounce a “prospective investigation” and demand that the Madrid Court annul the case due to its financing

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This is stated in Calvente’s full statement to which elDiario.es has had access and which was carried out on July 29 before the 42nd investigating court in Madrid. The document, which compiles more than three hours of declaration, it was lost at first and the parties had only been able to access the initial 42 minutes. But after requesting it Vox, personified as a popular accusation in the case, the court rectified its first communication and said that the entire recording was included, which it sent to the parties.

During the questions to Calvente, the prosecutor asked him about the role of the secretary of Communication and the head of the campaign. De Olmo is one of the people that the former lawyer points out in his complaint as part of a “plot” that would have been dedicated to “emptying” the party economically. One of the formulas that they would have used, always according to the complaint, would be the supposed fictitious hiring of the Mexican consultancy Neurona.

In Calvente’s complaint it is read that “Del Olmo (…) is the person who has ultimately decided the spending of the budgets of the Podemos electoral campaigns in the general elections and in the regional elections of Madrid, held this year 2019, ordering the conclusion of allegedly fictitious or manifestly bloated contracts, with very high amounts with several opaque companies, among others, with the company Neurona Comunidad SL, created expressly for the electoral campaign of April 28, 2019, through a figurehead”.

In addition, it says that Monedero “would have acted as an intermediary in the illicit contracts” with Neurona, “obtaining a personal benefit for it according to some of the people interviewed in the internal investigation.” And he adds that “he would be responsible for looking for foreign companies and governments with which to contract (…) obtaining funds through simulated contracts, which then served both for his own personal benefit – through intermediation commissions charged directly or indirectly – and to finance other foreign parties and, possibly, Podemos, through microcredits. ”

However, before the judge the former lawyer does not sustain all these accusations. And, in addition, it ensures that it cannot prove the irregularities that it manifests. To questions from the judge about the null contracts, he says: “Pablo Fernández Alarcón explains that to me. [exgerent del partido hasta 2019]. And a citizen counselor from Podemos has explained it to him, and people from within explain it to him. ”

Calvente acknowledges that he himself reviewed some of those contracts, specifically that of the Portuguese company ADDB, which in his complaint relates to the alleged Neurona network and to “fictitious contracts with companies and entities linked to the Neurona Consulting environment.” Before the judge, he said: “I did not see anything remarkable about that contract, other than people who were foreigners, I did not give it more importance at the time, but it already caught our attention, how strange is this, right?”

The former lawyer maintains that for the April 2019 campaign, Del Olmo set up “a big data center” outside the Podemos headquarters. That was where the work of the contracted companies took place and where their employees from Latin America actually came to work. Calvente acknowledges that these did move, although he does not know if they were “Mexican or Brazilian,” as well as the purchase of computers and the necessary material to set up the campaign office.

It was within the framework of that campaign and its budget, that the complainant says that it was never approved by the Citizen Council, as is required by the statute, where some “self-contracts” were produced to allegedly divert funds from the party to the leaders themselves. The prosecutor expressly asks him about Juan Manuel del Olmo’s role in this and Calvente responds: “He is the one who directed, he decided on the electoral campaign budget. Let us contract with this one or another. Even self-hiring, I cannot prove it. They have also said it, through the consulting firm Neuroa, I don’t know. I suppose it can be requested if the accounts are requested. ”

Judge, in the battery of proceedings that he requested the next day of Calvente’s statement, he has summoned two senior officials from Neurona Comunidad SL as investigated. He has also focused on the work that this consultancy and another called ABD Europa LDA – located in Portugal – did for training in the elections of the April 28, 2019. Thus, it asks the Judicial Police to identify all the payments made to both companies and to the party that contributes the work carried out. It also asks the banking entities Bankinter and BCP Millenium to send documentation of the accounts of both consultants.

Calvente recalls that the Court of Accounts did not accept these contracts and their payments as part of the electoral expenditure eligible for the State, as it appears in the recently published report and in which the supervisory body does not propose any sanction on Podemos nor withdraw said grant. It is in this context, in that of the communications between Podemos and the Court of Auditors about the Neurona contracts, in which the complainant says that they begin to suspect that strange things are happening, also alerted by “someone” from IU. Izquierda Unida was part of the United We Can coalition and, therefore, was also a party to the differences with the supervisory body. “That is what they tell me is happening, I have not seen it,” he said at another time about the possible differences between the two main parties that made up United Podemos.

Salary supplements for workers

Other complaints made by Calvente have to do with the salary supplements that some workers charge. Among them, two other of those investigated by the judge, the manager, Rocío del Val, and the treasurer, Daniel de Frutos. In his account, the former lawyer maintains that these constitute “bonuses” and that they are irregular.

Calvente points out in his statement before the judge that at the beginning of 2019 there was “general malaise in the workforce” because they were reviewing all personnel expenses “in case the elections went wrong.” “There were a lot of labor problems. The works council was blocked. Indiscriminate dismissals. Internal threats,” says Calvente.

The prosecutor asks Calvente if the “extraordinary 600 euros” supplements that Del Val and De Frutos received on their payroll were authorized by the party’s political leadership. And, again, you refer to third parties to confirm your claim. “What Gloria Elizo told me [por entonces máxima responsable legal y miembro de la ejecutiva de Podemos] is that it had not been approved. Because it was in a war economy for fear of an electoral debacle and a drop in income. That in January-February. Also, there was no budget. What I have been told is that this decision came from the Management. If other people told Management, I don’t know. ”

Next, the prosecutor asks if, in addition to the treasurer and the manager, someone else collects these supplements. “I don’t know anyone else,” Calvente responds.

However, minutes later it is the turn of the Podemos lawyer, who shows a series of payrolls from both Calvente himself and the previous manager, Pablo Fernández Alarcón, which includes some of the same accessories that shortly before he had said that he did not no one else was known to charge. The judge asks him: “Why did you charge this supplement and do you think the others are inappropriate?” To which Calvente replied: “the executive coordination complement was not regulated. Mine [de coordinación], yes “.

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