The Madrid Provincial Prosecutor’s Office has joined the appeal filed by Podemos against the decision of the judge investigating the party, Juan José Escalonilla, to reopen the investigation into the salary supplements that the party manager, Rocío Esther Val, would have charged; and the treasurer, Daniel de Frutos. The representative of the Public Ministry, who has already been against reopening these investigations, reiterates that these supplements were collected in a “transparent” and “internally controlled” manner. And it also specifies that it is not talking about amounts collected in “b” or in envelopes, “but about supplements collected on the payroll and known by all party control bodies.”
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After his provisional stay in March, the magistrate upheld a Vox appeal and in mid-April agreed to reopen this line of investigation, considering that the manager did not have the capacity to agree to salary increases to party members and that, therefore, having approved in some cases the rise in emoluments could have incurred a crime of unfair administration.
The existence of these alleged “bonuses” was the object of a complaint from the lawyers confronted with the party leadership, José Manuel Calvente and Mónica Carmona, who questioned the increases in the payroll of Val and De Frutos through the implementation of two salary supplements —for an amount of 210.32 and 400 euros— as well as through the reimbursement to them of travel expenses or other concepts that they considered “undue, disproportionate and for unauthorized concepts.
After the practice of several procedures, the Prosecutor’s Office reiterates that the collection of salary supplements “may be debatable from an ethical point of view or from the transparency that is required of political parties”, but it is not by itself a typical event. It goes on to explain that if the measure to increase wages had been made by agreement with the manager or through a proposal to the party leadership, it would not constitute a crime either.
For the Prosecutor’s Office, as it has already stated on more than one occasion, “it does not cease to be surprising” that it is the popular accusation that sustains the existence of evidence of a crime of unfair administration when the injured party, in this case the political party itself, does not it is considered as such. “And it does so,” he adds in his appeal, “on the basis of mistrusting party representatives who certify compliance with internal regulations.” In fact, they even request that one of them, which certifies the regularity of the supplements, be considered as being investigated for the crime of concealment or procedural fraud.
The Public Ministry also denounces that the private prosecution seeks to reveal data on those who charge in the party this type of supplements together with a general request to Podemos on the budget execution report and documentation sent to the citizen council. The practice of these new proceedings is for the Prosecutor’s Office a “new” attempt to audit the performance of a political group “with respect to previously clarified non-typical facts and with respect to which, on the other hand, there are no indications of crime” .
Despite this reopening, the ‘Neurona case’ has been thinning in recent months with the closure of several of the lines of research. In January, the judge closed the line of investigation on the reform of the new party headquarters and on the alleged crime of revealing secrets and violation of privacy that the lawyer had also denounced. Previously, in October, the judge had closed another of the lines of investigation of this cause, the one related to the alleged irregularities in four contracts of the party with the Portuguese consultancy ADB Europa corresponding to the generals of 2019.
Investigations are still open on the contract with the consulting firm Neurona for those same elections, in which the Secretary of Communication, Juan Manuel del Olmo, is imputed; and on the ‘solidarity fund’, a fund to which party leaders make donations and which ordered the reopening of the Madrid audience.