The judge who instructs the case of the alleged collection of commissions in a contract of the Diputación de Almería for the purchase of sanitary material has sent to prison the former vice president of the entity and councilor for Fines, Oscar Liria. In a resolution communicated at dawn, the investigating court 8 agreed to the provisional detention communicated and without bail for Liria and two other detainees in the so-called Operation Lúa, developed this week by agents of the UCO of the Civil Guard, and with ramifications in the provinces of Barcelona, Murcia, Almería, Gerona and Palma de Mallorca.
The vice president of the Almería Provincial Council detained for alleged irregular adjudications of sanitary material against COVID
The case is investigated for alleged crimes against public health (drug trafficking), belonging to a criminal organization, money laundering and against the public administration. Official sources clarify that not all crimes are attributed to all those investigated in the case. The judge sent three of the thirteen detainees in the Civil Guard operation to provisional prison. The remaining ten have been released, but precautionary measures have been imposed on them.
The judge points directly to the alleged plot of political corruption, despite the fact that the investigation was focused on the drug trafficking of a criminal organization based in Barcelona. Thus, one of those imprisoned is Óscar Liria, the dismissed vice president of the Almería Provincial Council. Investigators suspect that he facilitated the award of a contract for the supply of medical supplies for about two million euros in April 2020, in exchange for commissions.
One day after arresting Liria, also a councilor for the Fines city council and the mayor’s nephew, the investigators arrested a son of the councilor, who was also transferred to Barcelona. Liria’s family ties with this alleged plot do not end there: this media reported that Francisco Jesús Liria was the administrator of a company, Corpfam Global Investment until October 2020, until he was replaced by Kilian López Sole, the administrator of the company that brought the contract for sanitary material under suspicion.
A two million euro contract
The contract on which the researchers have set their eyes was awarded in the middle of the first wave of the coronavirus, when medical supplies were in short supply. The president of the Almería Provincial Council, Javier Aureliano García, signed a decree on April 8 to acquire from Azor Corporate Investment 500,000 FFP-2 masks, 15,570 protective coveralls and 500,000 nitrile gloves, in exchange for 1,999,886.24 euros plus 36,300.00 euros of “financial and contract management expenses”. The material had to be provided by means of a private charter flight.
A few hours before the decree was signed, a company in the sector received a call from the Diputación to urgently prepare a budget, according to the manager of that company, Jimsalab Distribución y Exportación. The budget of that company, sent by WhatsApp in a few minutes, served to contrast with that of the successful bidder, 50% cheaper.
The Civil Guard suspects that in exchange for the award “commissions would have been paid to a public position.”
In an extraordinary plenary session held this Friday morning in the Provincial Council, Javier Aureliano García has assured that the record of the award under suspicion is “pristine” and that there has been no irregularity, although he has been open to the possibility of constituting a commission of inquiry. It has also argued that the contract allowed the purchase of “the same material” at a price significantly lower than that offered by the other company, Jimsalab.