The judge of the National High Court, Manuel García Castellón, has filed the case against former Madrid president Esperanza Aguirre in the case of irregular financing of the Madrid PP, which is being investigated in the framework of the Púnica case. García Castellón has issued an order to pass to abbreviated procedure in piece 9, also known as box B of the Madrid PP, leaving Aguirre out and proposing to judge the former right-hand man of the former president, Francisco Granados, and the manager of the formation , Beltrán Gutiérrez, among others.
Anti-corruption extends the firewall around Esperanza Aguirre accusing new subordinates
There will be a total of eight people on the bench, most of them close collaborators of Aguirre in the regional executive along with businessmen, but neither the former president nor her successor, Ignacio González, will be present. The judge leaves 71 people out of the trial, including former directors Manuel Lamela, Juan José Güemes, Salvador Victoria and Lucía Figar, as well as, for example, businessmen Javier López Madrid and Juan Miguel Villar Mir. Unlike the rest, for Salvador Victoria the Prosecutor’s Office did request prosecution.
Regarding Aguirre, the judge understands that he did not have to know that his own electoral campaigns could be financed irregularly: “After the investigation carried out, it has not been possible to prove that the same [Esperanza Aguirre] had knowledge, neither of the contracting of the works, nor of its development, nor of how they were paid”.
The case, once the indictment has been issued, is directed against Francisco Granados, Beltrán Gutiérrez, the former councilor Borja Sarasola, Diego Mora, the businessman Alejandro de Pedro, the former Ayuso government official, Francisco Lobo, Isabel Gallego, the computer scientist José Martínez Nicolás as well as the companies EICO and Madiva.
In its order, the Popular Party should answer for the accounting of the regional elections of 2011. The accounting presented before the Chamber of Accounts “did not respond to the reality of what happened” and the accused sought “related businessmen who, performing the service, later invoice it under other concepts”. He makes Francisco Granados ultimately responsible for managing cash in the regional party along with Beltrán Gutiérrez. They, says the judge, developed this work of exercising as a link between the businessmen and the Popular Party of Madrid and they had done it with the different leaders of the formation. He also detects irregularities in the 2007 and 2008 campaigns but the judge understands that these possible crimes are prescribed.
The exoneration of Anticorruption
The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office presented a report of conclusions in July in which it also left Aguirre out. The Anticorruption conclusions did not bear the signature of either of the two prosecutors who have worked on the case in recent years due to disagreements with its content, including the exoneration of Esperanza Aguirre, according to sources in the case.
In its brief, Anticorrupción accuses the Popular Party of irregularly financing the electoral campaign of Esperanza Aguirre in 2011, when she revalidated her absolute majority as president of the Community of Madrid, understanding that similar events in the 2007 and 2008 elections would be prescribed.
That accusation put a firewall on the table to keep Aguirre out of the trial after being charged. She has requested the prosecution, for these facts, of two of her collaborators but not that of the former president: Beltrán Gutiérrez and Francisco Granados, for electoral crimes, influence peddling and in the case of Granados also bribery. At that time, Francisco Granados was Esperanza Aguirre’s right-hand man in Madrid’s public administration.
Aguirre could “suspect or intuit”
The Prosecutor’s Office recognized in its brief that Esperanza Aguirre could “suspect or intuit” that the limits of the electoral spending of her campaigns were exceeding the legal standards, but rejected that she knew it reliably. In a conversation with Ignacio González in which they talk about the Fundescam foundation, key in the alleged irregular financing of the PP, Aguirre said: “That we have skipped the electoral money limit for the campaign, well, it can, but of course Fundescam has not paid”, but that according to the prosecutor shows that “he had no knowledge of how it had happened”.
In that letter, the prosecution of various public officials such as former deputy Borja Sarasola and former councilor Salvador Victoria was also requested for crimes associated with online reputation campaigns paid, allegedly, with public money to favor politicians of the Popular Party. The Prosecutor’s Office explained in its brief that, apart from these prosecutions that it requests, the Púnica macro-case included more than 150 people who were charged or identified in the case and that now, almost a decade after the opening of the case, it requests the file against them. One of them Esperanza Aguirre.