The Secretary of Communication of Podemos and responsible for the last two electoral campaigns, Juan Manuel del Olmo, defended this Friday before the judge investigating the party that the consultant Neurona, hired for the general elections of April 28, 2019, carried out the jobs that were paid to him and he has ignored the use that society has given those funds. Del Olmo, a man very close to the current vice president Pablo Iglesias, has explained that he opted for the hiring of Neurona because it offered him confidence in his professionalism and has detailed that employees of the consultancy, based in Seville, traveled to Madrid, they report legal sources.
We can denounce a “prospective” investigation by the judge who investigates his contracts with Neurona
To questions from Judge Juan José Escalonilla, from El Olmo, who is being investigated in this case, he stated that the consultant was hired to carry out “electoral support” tasks related to the strategic and communication objectives of the campaign, carry out “audiovisual work design ”and carry out“ audiovisual coverage ”at the events. The contract object of these investigations, of 363,000 euros, was paid out of the electoral subsidy.
We can defend that the services billed to Neurona really correspond to work that the consultant carried out for the party. In fact, it has provided the court with up to 1,471 “products” – recordings, production of events, coverage … – which, according to the party, justifies it. The judge has asked the UDEF Money Laundering Investigation Brigade to analyze the veracity of these works.
The Prosecutor’s Office asked last September to investigate that contract, understanding that “there are elements that determine that the justification for this expense has not been proven, also resulting in a company created” ad hoc “to provide the service.” The company was registered in the Mercantile Registry of Seville on April 4, 2019, just three weeks before the generals. Asked about this question, Del Olmo has assured that he was not in charge of the hiring tasks, but of negotiating the scope of the work.
The magistrate and the Prosecutor’s Office are also investigating the payments that Neurona made in dates close to the 2019 elections to a digital technology company based in Dallas —Creative Advice Interactive— for a total amount of 308,257.20 euros “when transfers of the coalition are manifestly superior ”. To questions from the researchers, Del Olmo has disassociated himself from these subscriptions and has assured that he did not know of the existence of the Creative Advice Interactive company until he saw it in the press linked to this cause.
The investigation that has been ongoing since last summer in a Madrid court was opened as a result of the complaint that José Manuel Calvente, a lawyer who worked in the party since its foundation and until he was fired a year ago, filed in December 2019 before the civil Guard. Calvente argued in that complaint that there could be “illegal hiring” to simulate expenses and thus take “commissions.”
The agents prepared a statement in which they appreciated unfair administration and embezzlement and Judge Escalonilla ordered a series of proceedings, including the indictment of Del Olmo, the manager, Rocío Esther Val, and the treasurer, Daniel de Frutos, who also declared this Friday. The judge also took a statement from Calvente himself, who on social networks had said that the case was “worse than Gürtel” but that in his statement he lowered his accusations and said that he had no evidence of these “self-contracts.”
The case has been deflating in recent weeks. In October, the judge dismissed due to lack of evidence the open line of investigation on the supposed “opaque” outflow of money from the fund to which the party leaders make donations for social projects, the so-called ‘solidarity fund’. The magistrate concluded that there was no unfair administration in the fund that Calvente defined as ‘box B’, a name that the opposition parties also endorsed. Days before, he had also agreed to cancel proceedings that he himself had requested aimed at investigating the party’s contracts with the Portuguese consultancy ADB Europa after verifying that the Court of Accounts had proven that there were no irregularities in those contracts.
Last September, the Prosecutor’s Office asked the court to investigate Podemos only for the contract with Neurona for 28-A. Regarding the other issues that the former lawyer included in his complaint, he assured that some of them were “rumors, suspicions or suspicions” while for the rest there are no indications that demonstrate the existence of criminal acts.