Sunday, April 2

Split contracts and unapproved expenses, the investigation that surrounds Alberto Casero

The error of the PP deputy Alberto Casero that allowed the approval of the labor reform has put the focus on the secretary of Organization of the party, a position of discreet performance until then, because his work is aimed at making the internal machinery of the party work. The unexpected and involuntary role of him has once again surfaced the open investigation against the ‘number 4’ of the party by a court in Trujillo, the town of Cáceres of which he was mayor between 2011 and 2019, for a possible crime of continued prevarication.

After two legislatures with an absolute majority, three years ago the PSOE recovered the City Council of that town (8,821 inhabitants) and found a debt of seven million euros and, in addition, with businessmen and freelancers – “the majority from outside the municipality”– who demanded the payment of services with invoices “without acknowledgment of expense, without file, without entry record and without knowing on what basis those claims arrive two years after Casero left the City Council”, according to municipal sources.

The City Council initially refused to pay the businessmen who claimed money from the municipal coffers without a file justifying why they had to be paid.

The affected businessmen then went to the Justice, which has been forcing the City Council to pay the invoices. For this reason, the mayor, José Antonio Redondo, decided in November 2020 to transfer all invoices to the Court of Accounts Prosecutor’s Office. A year later, a court of instruction in Trujillo initiated an investigation against Alberto Casero for, according to the accusation, skipping the Public Sector Contracting Law. That is, not meeting the minimum legal requirements for contracting the service when he was in charge of the City Council; dispensing public money without documents to justify it.

The case is still being investigated and once it is concluded, it will have to assess whether to take the case to the Supreme Court due to the status of the PP deputy.

Minor “handpicked” contracts

According to the sources consulted, most of the contracts are less than 15,000 euros plus VAT “surely with the aim of awarding them by hand”, but there are also “split contracts, in all cases without the correct administrative procedure and with objections from the municipal comptroller “.

Corruption summaries are full of examples like these. Public officials who at some point have wanted to award contracts by hand have always resorted to these two ways: contracts of less than 18,000 euros in total, which the law allows to be awarded by hand and without publicity, or split large tenders into smaller contracts.

Gürtel was the great example of this practice, which has been repeated in countless cases. According to a judicial report, in this plot the Community of Madrid divided more than three million euros into a hundred smaller contracts to award them directly to Francisco Correa’s companies.

The Consistory accounts for twenty invoices in this situation and among them, for example, is the hiring of the celebration during the years 2017 and 2018 of the gala of the National Pop Eye Music and Arts Awards, organized by the cultural association Bon Vivant, for a value of 56,628 euros, the highest amount of which until now has been recorded because the costs of the judicial process are included.

The City Council has also received an invoice worth 15,000 euros from a tourism consultancy for promotional work by the municipality. Municipal sources explain that this work consisted of including “three photos of Trujillo in a guide that has been distributed in hotels in Extremadura.” Another invoice, for 17,000 euros, was for “advice at the Cheese Fair when that event depends on the Fair Institution”, of which the City Council, the Junta de Extremadura and the Provincial Councils of Cáceres and Badajoz are part.

Another of the outstanding contracts is that of a psychologist to care for women victims of gender violence, although “there is no record of what he did or if he met with any of these victims.” The contract, for 18,000 euros with VAT, was not provided to the City Council “and again the expense was not approved because the file does not exist,” municipal sources insist.

In his last stage as mayor, Casero’s expenses skyrocketed. The protocol item amounted to 4,000 euros per month and in six months he spent 1,175,000 euros that the City Council had paid for the photovoltaic plants, “just before the elections.”