Marcos Benavent, the self-described ‘money junkie’, is the cornerstone of the ‘Taula case’. His testimony before the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office validated the audios (more than ten hours of clandestinely recorded corruption) and opened avenues of investigation so that the Central Operative Unit (UCO) of the Civil Guard could pull the thread of a macrocause of corruption that has resulted in ten separate pieces. Benavent, as elDiario.es has been able to confirm, has unexpectedly changed his lawyer.
The criminal lawyer Juan Carlos Navarro has taken over from Ramir Blasco, the lawyer who from the beginning of the investigation has defended Benavent. The change has caused perplexity in the investigators due to the possible change of strategy of the main collaborator of the justice in the cause of corruption with more defendants (a hundred) of the Valencian territory. Navarro is not exactly a cheap lawyer, which contrasts with the limited economic means of the ‘money junkie’, who lives on a modest family contribution in a villa cultivating a garden.
Events have been precipitating in recent days. After taking over, the new lawyer has requested this Thursday the head of the Court of Instruction number 18 of Valencia that Benavent declare again, according to a letter to which elDiario.es has had access.
From the first moment, Benavent has collaborated with the investigators giving clues about the dealings of the alleged corrupt gang led by Alfonso Rus, former president of the Valencia Provincial Council. The ‘Taula case’ is born from the audios that Benavent’s father-in-law, also investigated, contributed to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, through the then provincial deputy Rosa Pérez Garijo, now a councilor of the Generalitat Valenciana. Benavent’s testimony before the UCO and Anticorrupción validated the tapes and confirmed who are the protagonists of the conversations that he secretly recorded for years.
During these five years, the lawyer Ramir Blasco has been his lawyer, focusing the defense strategy on open collaboration with the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office and with the UCO, to the fright of the rest of those investigated. At first, Benavent even had police protection.
The ‘money junkie’, as he publicly declared, had a clear horizon of going to prison despite the collaboration, due to the seriousness of the alleged crimes under investigation. The man created, especially at the beginning of the case, a public figure crystallized in the concept of the ‘money junkie’. A kind of addict to capital in the process of rehabilitation.
From the audio explosives, the researchers were able to establish a global scheme of the alleged corrupt plot that has resulted in the opening of a dozen separate pieces that affect the provincial institution but also the stage of the PP in the Valencia City Council , with Rita Barberá as mayor, and public companies of the Generalitat Valenciana such as Ciegsa, the commercial company dedicated to the construction of public schools.
The change in counsel has caused some concern about the possible modification of Benavent’s defense strategy. If the ‘money junkie’ changes his version, the strength of the complex instruction could be jeopardized. Although many of the investigations have an additional consistency in letters rogatory or confessions of third parties, the truth is that the whole case arises from the recordings.
In two of the most advanced pieces, the Prosecutor’s Office requests severe prison sentences for Benavent, a character who, after a tour of several countries in 2015, landed in Spain to collaborate with investigators and has been locked up in his house for five years, at first even with police protection. A so-called money addiction rehab maybe too long.
Cultivating an orchard in Xàtiva
The investigation of the ‘Taula case’, a complex investigation that affects a hundred people, has lasted for five years in the Court of Instruction number 18 of Valencia. During all this time, Benavent has been living in a town near Xàtiva, cultivating a garden and brooding over his more than likely entry into prison.
As if all this were not enough, from the ‘Taula case’ the ‘Erial case’ was born. The UCO investigators found in the registry of Benavent’s lawyer’s office the documentation that has allowed the initiation of investigations into the alleged fortune of former minister Eduardo Zaplana abroad. As in the ‘Taula case’, the investigation begins as a result of documentation held by Benavent. However, in the Erial plot, the investigation of the case has obtained very solid evidence, thanks to the collaboration of the alleged launderer (the Uruguayan lawyer Fernando Washington Belhot, cornered by other causes of corruption).
On his Twitter account, which he does not use too much, the ‘money junkie’ posted a photo in which he appears with his characteristic outfit, mystical, and holding a pendulum. “We all look for answers at some point in our lives. The important thing is to know who to ask”, wrote. The sudden change in counsel raises more questions than answers.