Sunday, September 25

Expenses in Andorra in the New Year and even the veterinarian: life at full speed with the ‘black card’ of a former PP

On Saturday January 1, 2011, the then CEO of Vaersa (Valenciana de Aprovechamiento Energético de Residuos, SA), Felipe Espinosa, used the Gold Visa of the public company in a ski shop in Andorra. In restaurants, mainly in the social club of the urbanization where he resides, 54,000 euros were spent on meals during the weekends. He also paid more than 6,000 euros at a Jaguar dealer. Espinosa sits this Monday in the fourth trial he faces accused of an alleged continuing crime of embezzlement of public funds.

A report from the Intervention of the Generalitat Valenciana reviews in detail the use that he gave to his ‘black card’. The Visa fumed, as listed by the prosecutor and the Generalitat lawyer. The former CEO of Vaersa took up to 48 times 500 euro bills at ATMs, a mechanism very similar to that used in the ‘Emarsa case’. In total, the Public Ministry considers that Espinosa spent 105,397 euros without justification. He even charged expenses for the vet.

His defense, however, considers that Espinosa’s dedication to the company was complete: seven days a week. With an “extreme honesty”, the high position, appointed by the PP at the head of Vaersa, needed to organize meetings during the weekend in the restaurants near his home, located in Puçol, after spending the whole week of meetings and visits, always to increase the clientele of the public company and thus create more jobs.

The lawyer, who already worked for Vaersa during Espinosa’s stage, assures that the high position did not even invite him to a coffee. “I know that this honesty is taken to the extreme,” the lawyer assured the members of the jury.

The argument of the exalted position highlights that the expenses were known “with light and stenographers” by the public company. In fact, he has alluded to the four councilors of the PP on whom the public company depended successively and who, in his opinion, endorsed the expenses: Esteban González Pons, José Ramón García Antón, Juan Cotino and Isabel Boing.

In addition, he considers that no one gave him instructions about the Gold Visa when he joined the management of the company. The lawyer has accused the Autonomous Government of the Pacte del Botànic of “going to the knife” against his client, since the expenses prosecuted (those that have not prescribed) date back to 2011.

“It is not a political position nor has he had any license,” he adds. Ultimately, Espinosa made a “consented, blessed and liquidated use” of the company card. The expenses passed six filters, according to the defense, including the Audit Office, the regional body that ensures the proper use of the treasury.

The prosecutor, on the other hand, remembers the three sentences that the defendant carries: “This embezzlement is not an isolated case,” he concludes. “The victims of the crime committed by Espinosa are all,” said the representative of the Public Ministry before the jury. The prosecutor wondered if Espinosa “worked at the Alfinach club where he lived” and even joked with the defense thesis according to which the then director of Vaersa worked seven days a week. “It is to give the medal to the merit of the work”, said before the uneasy look of the accused.

The lawyer for the Generalitat Valenciana Lawyer recalled that a senior official must justify the expenses in meals (at least with whom he meets or the issues to be discussed) and highlighted the expenses detected by the Intervention that collide with the defense thesis. Thus, on January 1, 2011, New Year’s Day, Espinosa charged expenses in a ski shop in Andorra.

The Intervention report found that the former CEO of Vaersa spent the card in restaurants 89 times on a Saturday or Sunday. “It constitutes an act of personal profit to the detriment of the public company”, considers the Lawyers of the Generalitat. The man also registered 17 accounting entries in El Corte Inglés, in a veterinary center, in Leroy Merlin and in Consum.

Although Espinosa’s situation is extremely delicate, with three convictions and a request for six years in prison, he has an advantage, which is that criminal responsibility for most of the irregular expenses has been prescribed. In fact, as explained by his lawyer, the brother of the accused has contributed the 19,000 euros that are not included in the prescribed period (“without assuming any criminal responsibility,” the lawyer clarified).