On March 3, 2017, a police van took him to the Vía Alemán Courts in Palma, offices that hours later he left for the Palma prison accused of plotting a mafia network aimed at staying at the top of leisure in Mallorca. Until that date, finding a photograph of Bartolomé Cursach was an impossible task. Except if you were looking for him in the boxes and on the bench of some football stadium. The hitherto considered king of the Majorcan night always moved in the shadows – “he was like ectoplasm”, says someone close to him – but his name has been present in the island’s imagination for decades.
The judge and prosecutor in the Cursach case will be tried for coercion and illegal detention
Even in the ‘clandestine’, the history of the Palma night, who began his career as a ball boy at the Mallorca Tennis Club and became the owner of the largest clubs in the Balearic Islands, gyms and hotels and even a defunct airline charter flights baptized with its acronym, knew how to weave its relationships.
Gone are the paddle games with the former president of the Balearic Government Jaume Matas -sentenced to more than eight years in prison in successive cases that, for almost a decade, brought him to the dock-, who was a regular at the ” pretty girl” in Cursach: the 12,000-square-meter Megasport gym.
Not only the former minister under the second term of José María Aznar was seen in the sports facilities, but also numerous other “influential people” to whom – without citing names – the former judge Manuel Penalva, who captained for three years the investigations against Cursach and that, in an overturn of the same, today he is on the verge of the bench for, among other alleged illicit practices, instrumentalizing and coercing witnesses with the aim of constructing the investigations a la carte and supporting his incriminating thesis.
One of the witnesses who paraded before the former magistrate in the framework of these investigations recounted an episode: owner of a laundry located next to the Megasport, he had heard a conversation between Cursach and one of his closest collaborators about a paddle tennis tournament in which Two world champions were scheduled to participate – two Argentines whose names were not specified. Matas was also going to play in it. The witness heard that two players had received 6,000 euros each “for letting Jaume Matas win” with the aim that the then president would be “in a good mood to later do business.”
The owner of the laundry, who came to enter the business and family circle of Cursach, explained that his dalliances with those closest to the businessman allowed him to “hear and witness a large number of dirty laundry.” Some conversations in which, apparently, the name of Son Espases also came up on occasion or another, ultimately erected in the reference hospital of the Balearic Islands.
The ins and outs that were woven behind the curtains of the adjudication of the largest public work in the archipelago are other of the great acquaintances of Justice: finger hiring, detailed fraudulent maneuvers, prevarications or subordinates managed as “complacent puppets”, in the words of the Anticorruption Prosecutor. The construction was not exempt from what for decades became the islands in the foundation of major agreements and tenders. The tentacles of these investigations even reached the national headquarters of the PP and names such as Florentino Pérez, Juan Miguel Villar Mir and Luis Bárcenas appeared among the thousands of pages of its summary.
“It was the paradigm with which, all too often, economic and political interests are molded in a spiral where the public interest is the last reason to consider or has no place,” ex-prosecutor Pedro Horrach emphatically underlined when he was in charge of the Son Espases case, which revealed –also in the words of one of the main scourges against corruption on the islands– how the largest public tender in the Balearic Islands “was manipulated and perverted by order of Jaume Matas, who had absolute control over it ”.
Apparently, Cursach was also not unaware of the evolution of this macro project. Months before the land on which the hospital would be located was known, the businessman had acquired a farm near it. And years later, the businessman appeared in an investigation commission promoted in the Balearic Parliament on the illegalities that surrounded the tender.
During his speech in the legislative chamber, sheltered behind his dark aviator glasses, the owner of the largest leisure empire on the islands stated that he had paid 13.5 million euros for a plot of 150,000 square meters. However, he assured that, before signing the sale, he had never been aware that the main hospital in the Balearic Islands was going to be built in the vicinity of his estate, awarded for 635 million euros to the joint venture formed by the construction companies Dragados – a subsidiary of ACS–, FCC, Melchor Mascaró SL and Llabrés Feliu SA after a process full of vicissitudes.
The tycoon justified himself before the incredulous gesture of the deputies: “If I had known, I would not have bought it. Because of what happened, the farm is worth nothing now. Where is my big business? Who gives me thirteen and a half million that are deeded for this farm? And he stated that he acquired the farm because then it was believed that Palma was going to continue its growth in that area. “I didn’t buy it to plant potatoes,” he quipped.
A contest with public funds to win new voters
For decades, the tycoon subtly related to the PP and the Unió Mallorquina (UM), an eternal hinge party –disappeared in 2011 after several decades of pacts with the PP and the PSOE–. The founder and leader of UM, Maria Antònia Munar, skilfully pulled the strings of the main institutions of the islands. Paradigmatic were, in fact, the parties tinged with political color that were celebrated in style in two of the nightclubs that once formed part of the Cursach business conglomerate: Pachá and Abraxas.
In this last establishment, a mythical icon of Majorcan nights in the 1970s and 1980s, which ended up being acquired by the Cursach Group in the 2000s, UM even hosted a Miss Argentina Balears pageant paid for by the treasury. public but in reality solely and exclusively aimed at winning over new voters.
It was just one of the many tactics used by the regionalist formation, determined to stay in power until its illicit maneuvers ended up emerging and its leaders arrested in successive police operations. A string of scandals that, on February 5, 2010, caused the governability agreement signed for three years with PSIB and the nationalists of the Bloc per Mallorca to end up blowing up and, in February 2011, led UM to dissolution.
But before such tricks came to light in the most agitated weeks that politically and judicially are remembered in the islands, at the beginning of 2007, about to end the last legislature of Matas -who that same year would end up banished from the Balearic Islands after the electoral blow that he would suffer in May and that would lead him to abandon politics to move to the United States–, José María Rodríguez, then Minister of the Interior, a perennial figure in Balearic politics and one of the main leaders of the island’s PP until Genoa promoted its march in mid-2016, giving the green light to a regulation that regulated noise pollution and musical activities in nightlife and that, as criticized from various quarters, was “a tailored suit” for the interests of the Cursach . The rule was publicly baptized as the ‘Cursach decree’, despite the fact that, as industry sources point out, “it benefited numerous other businessmen on the islands”.
Bacchanalia and trays of cocaine
The investigations of the Cursach case – most of which are being harshly questioned in the trial that has been held against the businessman in the Balearic Provincial Court since last Monday – came to define Rodríguez, a telephone cable installer before accessing to political life, as the “shadow architect” of a political and police network aimed at safeguarding the magnate’s authority in the Majorcan night.
Even a witness, currently under investigation, and who falsely claimed to be the madam of a brothel to which high-ranking PP politicians went to participate in parties supposedly paid for by Cursach, placed him in the midst of bacchanals and trays of cocaine. The accusations dominated the Balearic and national news for months and were finally thrown out by the investigations opened a posteriori against the former investigators of the case.
Now, Rodríguez is awaiting the ruling of the Supreme Court, but in relation to his conviction in another judicial proceeding: he was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in the considered branch of the Gürtel plot in the Balearic Islands for favoring from the Government, through rigged contracts, to the communication agency Over Marketing, which became strong in the islands, the Valencian Community and Madrid and financed in black the island PP campaign prior to the regional elections of 2003. Its owner, Daniel Mercado, involved Rodríguez in the management of money opaque to the treasury within the formation and described him as the politician who “really made the decisions” in the party.
Meanwhile, in the Majorcan municipality of Calvià, its former mayor, Carlos Delgado (PP) sued his predecessor in office, the socialist Margarita Nájera, whom he accused of having prevaricated when granting the license, against the planning regulations then in force, for the construction of a water park owned by Cursach. The courts, however, would end up ordering the filing of the proceedings as they did not consider it proven that the former mayor pressured the municipal technicians to endorse the granting of the permit with their reports.
The trial that puts the once all-powerful Majorcan businessman, his number two and fifteen other defendants on the bench now puts the investigations carried out against the defendants on the ropes, who came to be placed in a network that for at least twenty years, From the highest political and police levels, he promoted the smooth running of Cursach’s businesses in exchange for bribes for police officials, orgies included.
After the vicissitudes suffered by the case since then, with the former judge and the former prosecutor of the criminal process in the crosshairs of justice, the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office has knocked down a good part of the investigations that gravitated for more than five years on those most responsible for the Cursach group as well as on numerous police officers and officers whose procedural future is now in the hands of the court that judges the biggest cause of corruption promoted in recent years in the Balearic Islands.