Tuesday, June 6

The Fire Department of the Generalitat, accused of a case of alleged corruption

The investigating court number 14 of Barcelona has charged seven senior members of the Generalitat Fire Department for a case of alleged corruption in truck maintenance contracts. In an investigation, the Mossos d’Esquadra found numerous duplicate or triplicate invoices and indications of commissions of up to 2%, as uncovered this Sunday the newspaper La Vanguardia. Among those investigated is the current director general of the Fire Department, Joan Delort, and his predecessor in office, Manel Pardo, who are summoned to testify next Friday before the judge. In a statement, the Department of the Interior showed its willingness to provide all the required documentation and denies that any official has “benefited financially.”

The case of alleged corruption was uncovered in April 2021, when the head of the Fire Department technical service reported that the contract with the Grupo Iturri company for the maintenance of the truck fleet no longer had a balance. In fact, in 2020 it closed with a debt of 1.7 million euros that it was wanted to correct with invoices in January, February and March 2021. This set off the alarms and forced an urgent meeting between the then Fire Chief , Manel Pardo, and a lawyer from the Interior. According to the Barcelona newspaper, Pardo assured that the contract was “historically poorly dimensioned” and showed a document with the invoices, where he wrote down a figure of +2% alleging “we cannot complain, since before the figure to be paid was higher”.

The official considered the facts serious, took advantage of an oversight by Pardo to obtain the document and raised the situation with her superior, Francesc Claverol. The case reached the then Minister of the Interior, Miquel Sàmper, and an internal investigation was launched. Only with a first analysis, the lawyers already discovered numerous irregularities: invoices for revisions carried out several times on the same vehicle, repairs to vehicles with license plates that did not correspond and invoices without concepts. The report finally reached the Prosecutor’s Office and the investigating court number 14 – with the substitute magistrate Miriam de Rosa at the head – began a secret investigation with various telephone interventions and reports from Mossos.

The secrecy of the investigation was lifted at the end of December and De Rosa summoned the entire previous leadership of the Fire Department (five senior officials), in addition to the current director, Joan Delort, and the manager of Iturri in Catalonia, Eduardo José Díaz, to testify as defendants. Hervas. In fact, the concession company is already implicated in other similar cases of corruption in Andalusia, the Balearic Islands and Madrid.

Interior says it is working to “reverse” the situation

For its part, the Department of the Interior has published a statement in which it wanted to express its willingness to provide all the documentation required to clarify the facts. “From what we know so far there is no indication that any official has benefited financially or has maneuvered to favor the Iturri company,” Interior wanted to make clear.

However, the department led by Joan Ignasi Elena has recognized that it is working to “revert the situation” with a series of measures that include an improvement in the management of the contract execution control circuits, a tender proposal that improves the concurrence of other companies and a sufficient economic endowment “in relation to the real needs of the service”.

In fact, the Interior has specified that the specifications of the new truck maintenance contract for the year 2022 have an allocation of 4.8 million euros, 46% more than the 2021 allocation, and a part of this contract in a company other than Iturri SA, for the first time in the last 20 years. “With these actions, it is planned to restore the normality of the maintenance service in the first quarter of 2022, with a sufficient budget allocation so as not to fall back into credit insufficiency,” concluded the Department of the Interior.