Monday, July 4

An opinion at 50,000 euros: the role of urban planning specialist lawyers in the corrupt plot of the ‘Azud case’

A legal opinion at the rate of 50,000 euros. It is the amount billed to the alleged plot of the ‘Azud case’ by the lawyer Pablo Torres Domingo, investigated in the case for the alleged crimes of bribery, false documents and money laundering. The Central Operative Unit (UCO) of the Civil Guard maintains that the large payment would be a commission for the lawyer José Luís Vera, historically linked to the PSPV-PSOE, within the framework of an urban operation of the businessman Jaime Febrer with the Valencia City Council. The UCO, as contained in the summary of the ‘Azud case’ to which has had access, reviews evidence of “fictitious billing for apparently non-existent services” between the company Mediterránea de Actuaciones Integradas SL, of Febrer, and Somalo Tres SL , a company dedicated to legal services and advice on the sale of real estate constituted by Pablo Torres Domingo and his wife, María Paz Sanfeliu Moreno, also investigated in the case.

The list of priority objectives for the balls of the plot of the ‘Azud case’: 24 municipalities of the PP and 13 socialists

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The lawyer has been a career civil servant since 1998. On January 30, 2020, he was appointed, by the free appointment system, as a lawyer for the Valencian Anti-Fraud Agency. However, after his indictment in the ‘Azud case’, he was dismissed “in a sudden way”, according to sources from the organization led by Joan Llinares. At the time of the events under investigation, Pablo Torres Domingo was collaborating with the law firm of Virgilio Latorre (lawyer for the socialist Rafael Rubio in the ‘Azud case’), an office in which José Luis Vera, considered an alleged broker of the plot with the consistories of the PSPV-PSOE, had a “job”, according to the defense brief of the ex-lawyer of the Valencian Anti-Fraud Agency.

In his statement to the UCO, Pablo Torres points out that José Luis Vera “had a very good relationship with politicians from the Valencian Community within the PSOE” and was in charge of “putting businessman Jaime Febrer in contact” with socialist public officials. In fact, the Civil Guard investigators intervened to the alleged corrupt plot a detailed list of priority objectives in 24 municipalities governed by the PP and in 13 with socialist mayors.

The investigated “neither knows nor did he know if [Vera] whether or not he had some kind of organic link with the firm, or if he simply collaborated, or if he limited himself to providing clients to it”, the letter abounds. “With the approval of the firm”, José Luis Vera requested the collaboration of Pablo Torres Domingo “for his specialty in Administrative and Urban Law”. Thus, the firm Somalo Tres SL was not “a mere instrumental company” nor an “invoicing company, as those dedicated to issuing invoices for simulated, non-existent or fictitious operations are known,” adds the pleadings brief.

José Luis Vera, married to the former socialist regional deputy Antonia Armengol, would have pocketed 1.3 million euros from the alleged plot (not counting additional cash) with “supposed business relationships, contracts and fictitious billings” for payments for services “non-existent”, according to an order from the investigating judge of the ‘Azud case’.

The opinion in charge of the one suspected by the UCO dealt with the legal viability of payment in kind to different religious congregations that own concerted schools, one of the subplots investigated in the ‘Azud case’. The amounts invoiced, argues the defense of Pablo Torres, are adjusted to “market prices”. “Apart from the fact that the fees are free between lawyer and client,” adds the statement of allegations, the amount represents 0.15% “of what is being discussed” (an economic interest of 31.2 million euros). Additionally, the company Somalo Tres SL and the firm of José Luis Vera jointly invoiced legal advice to businessman Jaime Febrer in the framework of an urban development operation in Burjassot.

The “currito” of José Luis Vera

The brief regrets the “unfounded damages” that the instruction has caused the lawyer. Pablo Torres’ defense laments “the unpleasantness of the entries and searches” —despite the “exquisite treatment of the Civil Guard”— at his home and at the homes of his mother, brother and mother-in-law. In addition, he also notes that he “was invited to present his voluntary resignation due to the reputational damage that could be caused to the Agency [Antifraude] that his legal adviser was investigated for alleged crimes of corruption and diversion of public money.”

The defendant was “forced to return” to his job as a general administration technician at the Godella City Council, which has caused him “financial damage, due to the difference in remuneration between one position and another.” He also regrets the seizure by the UCO of his mobile phone and his “family computer”, with “the obvious breach of the loss of contacts and agenda, apart from the need to explain to people who, calling to his number, they cannot locate him”.

The brief of allegations concludes with an undisguised taunt to José Luis Vera. Pablo Torres says he has suffered the “moral affliction of being investigated in a criminal case for not having done anything other than work at his job and being required by others to know how to do what those others do not know, even if they have the same degree.” “Said in paladin roman: for having been the ‘little guy’ who only has knowledge but has no contacts, he must now respond and bear the consequences of what those who do not have that knowledge have done – presumably – with their contacts,” he adds.