February 28, 2021

The former Minister Catalá returns to Codere and the PP strengthens its ties with the gaming sector in full regulatory offensive

The former Minister of Justice Rafael Catalá returns to the Codere gaming group, of which he will be an external collaborator and global advisor of institutional relations, as El Confidencial advances on Tuesday and has been able to confirm La Sexta in a telephone conversation with the ex-politician.

Catalá, that since it was announced in May his resignation from the seat has multiplied his private activity, has already been appointed last month president of Belagua, society of the hotel entrepreneur and declared socialist (with several companies on the list of delinquents with the Treasury) Antonio Catalán. The former minister, lawyer and lobbyist will be responsible for oiling Codere's relations with political power at a time when from many sectors a stricter regulation is requested with the gaming sector.

The last warning came last week, when in the speech of his failed investiture, Pedro Sánchez promised, without further details, "to act rigorously to prevent gambling." "Society asks us to regulate the game, which has spread out of control," he said. Codere itself already revealed a few months ago that the Cejuego sector lobby last year he multiplied contacts with politicians in an environment of important regulatory changes at regional level.

Catalá was already secretary of the board of directors of the operator of bingos, casinos, online gambling and recreational machines until 2011, just before signing for the first Government of Mariano Rajoy. With his return to Codere, with which it has not been possible to contact, the PP's links with this sector are reinforced in full regulatory offensive against the proliferation of bookmakers in the most humble areas of large cities.

Another of the familiar faces of the PP linked to the game is that of former deputy Andrés Ayala, who as eldiario.es revealed for years is partner of the Murcian group Orenes and after leaving his seat he was appointed advisor in several of its subsidiaries instead of his wife. Orenes is finalizing the opening of the largest casino in Spain in Murcia.

Catalá signed as Secretary General of Codere after his time as Secretary of State for Justice (2002-2004) in the last Government of Aznar. He remained as director of the company until December 2011, although he remained linked to his foundation as employer until 2014. His position in that body would then be occupied by another former minister of the PP, Pío Cabanillas.

Since 2016, Cabanillas is an advisor to Codere representing the interests of the Martínez Sampedro family, former shareholders controlling the company until a group of vulture funds took control of the group after the restructuring of a debt of nearly 1.3 billion. The former minister of José María Aznar he came to bill Codere about 300,000 euros for his services as an advisor while representing the Masampe company on its board of directors.

Under a highly regulated sector, Codere is accustomed to sitting on the board of directors, where he had Juan Junquera (secretary of state with José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero) and the university professor José Ignacio Cases, among others. Secretary General of the National Gaming Commission in the 80s and then vice president of its foundation.

In January 2013. The Bloomberg agency revealed the relationship between Codere and the consulting firm founded by Cristóbal Montoro, Economic Team, and accused the Ministry of Finance of forcing foreign gaming operators to pay 150 million in taxes under threat. of harming them in the granting of online gaming licenses and thereby benefiting Codere.

The Treasury hastened to publish a resounding denial in which it denied "sharply the accusation of influence peddling in favor of the Spanish gaming company Codere for alleged personal contacts with the minister." He even announced a complaint against Bloomberg and the journalist who signed the information, but never presented it.

. (tagsToTranslate) former minister (t) Catala (t) Codere (t) PP (t) regulatory

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