Monday, July 4

Anti-corruption asks for up to 8 years for embezzlement and 6 for criminal organization for Mercasa’s bites in Angola

The Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office has presented a brief of provisional conclusions against 17 people, the public company Mercasa – the manager of the Spanish food markets – and three other companies for irregularities in the contracts signed between 2006 and 2016 for the construction of a wholesale market in Luanda (Angola) through the payment of bribes to authorities and officials of that country and the appropriation of part of the funds. The letter includes requests for a sentence of up to 8 years for embezzlement and 6 years for integration into a criminal organization.

The National Court investigates Mercasa for an operation in Angola of 500 million euros

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The defendants are accused of crimes of corruption in international commercial transactions, continued documentary falsification, continued embezzlement of public funds, money laundering and criminal organization, according to the note released this Wednesday by the Public Ministry and collected by Europa Press.

The prison sentences requested from individuals are six years for the crime of corruption in international commercial transactions; eight years for the authors and three and a half years for the cooperators, for the crime of embezzlement; three years for the crime of money laundering; five years for the crime of falsehood and, finally, six years for the crime of criminal organization, in addition to the corresponding fines and forfeiture. Legal persons are required different penalties of fine.

The investigation of this case concluded at the end of November 2019, when the then head of Central Court number 5, José de la Mata, finalized the investigation of this separate piece of the so-called ‘Mercasa case’.

Among the people that the judge considered that they should be tried are several executives such as María Jesús Prieto Jiménez, the brothers Francisco Javier and José Manuel Pardo de Santayana or the businessman José Herrero de Engaña, nephew of Ignacio López del Hierro, husband of the former secretary General of the PP María Dolores de Cospedal. There are also the companies that were part of CÓMIC, a consortium of Spanish companies that would have paid more than 20 million euros in illegal commissions.

Who is not among the defendants is Pablo González, brother of the former Madrid president Ignacio González and who was director of Strategy and Operations at Mercasa, who had been initially charged.

Contracts in Angola and the Dominican Republic

In the opinion of the Prosecutor’s Office, the judicial investigation has allowed to prove the commission of a possible crime of international corruption in business committed by the Spanish public company Mercasa, and by the companies with which it was associated through an apparent company such as the consortium established with them, created in 2002 with the sole purpose of filing a legal organization to obtain public contracts in the Dominican Republic and Angola.

In the course of the investigation, the public contracts signed by Spanish companies with the Angolan government during the years 2006 to 2016 for the construction of a wholesale food market in Luanda (Angola), a “turnkey” project called CLOD, concluding that there are relevant indications that the administrators of the aforementioned companies paid illegal commissions to the Angolan authorities and public officials who participated in the contracting and execution of these contracts to obtain the corresponding awards in that country.

Millionaire contracts

The sum of these public contracts amounted to an amount greater than 500,000,000 dollars, although the amount collected by these companies during those ten years of commercial activity was about 200 million euros.

The administrators of the Spanish companies, who planned to obtain public contracts in Angola by paying such commissions in order to send the money to the Angolan authorities and public officials, used the services of the Angolan commission agent Guilherme Taveira, against whom At present, different international arrest warrants are in force by the Central Investigating Court number 5. This is the same agent that another public company, Defex, employed in that country, which has already been accused by the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office for taking similar practices have been carried out in Angola, Cameroon and Saudi Arabia.

The illicit commissions destined for the Angolan authorities were deducted from the amount of the public contracts that Spanish companies entered into in Angola through commercial collaboration contracts signed with the companies Sonadi, Soter and Metab, controlled by Taveira himself, all of which turned out to be instrumental contracts. and ineffective, whose sole purpose was to send commissions for the authorities and public officials of that country as well as the payment of their illicit services. Payments to the aforementioned Taveira companies have been identified for the amount of twenty million euros.

The investigation has also revealed that, during these ten years of commercial activity, the administrators of the companies, in concert with the administrators of the public company, appropriated funds from it up to a total of 6,000,000 euros for no commercial reason. These appropriations of public funds were channeled through companies, and hidden through inverable contracts, for which the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office considers that the accused caused a patrimonial damage to the public company Mecasa of 16,147,404.85 euros and requests their restitution as liability civil enforceable from all defendants.

In turn, the indictment of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office highlights that, once the investigation of this procedure began, the new managers of the public company Mercasa adopted a firm, determined and proactive position of collaboration with the investigation, providing documentation and relevant evidentiary means to identify those responsible and to eradicate these illegal practices of the company in the future, for which it considers that there is a very qualified mitigating factor of collaboration with the administration of justice, consequently reducing the penalties requested for this legal entity public.