Friday, September 24

The Leioa City Council hired in 2019 a company owned by its former Councilor for Culture that has been convicted of corruption

Ainhoa ​​Alberdi, the businesswoman who uncovered the largest plot of commissions and contract fixing in Euskadi, denounced the ‘case of Miguel’, who had had real difficulties to continue working with the Administration after taking the step of going to the Prosecutor’s Office to reveal that a leader of the Álava PNV, Alfredo de Miguel, was extorting her for not wanting to pay him an illegal commission after receiving an award. They even advised him not to waste time preparing contests. His complaint led to other irregular actions and numerous companies linked to public or internal PNV positions appeared in the case. One of them is Iñaki San Juan, a former councilor for Culture in Leioa and the son of a mayor of the Biscayan town of the same name. Still in 2019, almost a decade after being charged, a year and a half after the macro-trial of the case began and a few months before the sentence that condemns him to five years and three months in prison for corruption was known, he received a contract ‘a finger’ from its old City Council for the organization of a concert in Kultur Leioa, although its amount is not very high (3,509 euros).

Errexal, the company that collected illegal commissions for the De Miguel plot and that continues to work for the Basque Government

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During the trial, which was held in the Provincial Court of Álava throughout the year 2018 and to which San Juan went covered to avoid being recorded, the now condemned man wrote a letter to ‘Deia’ ridiculing the case and journalists that covered it. He even allowed himself to denounce that the investigation had involved a waste of public money, the same for which he was convicted. Already then it emerged without excessive details that he was collaborating again with the Basque Government and, specifically, with the Youth area. Likewise, he has made works for the Hondarribia blues festival or for the Basque Fest in Bilbao by the Montai firm. Other defendants have also been working normally with the Administration, such as Sergio Fernández Oleaga, from the Stoa company. Also here there has been a facelift and the firm is currently called HNK Engineering, Urbanism and Environment. De Miguel himself continues to work for the Autonomous Administration in the Hazi public society, where he has had several promotions and salary increases while he was being investigated.

The award in Leioa consists in a decree signed in July 2019 by the current mayor of the town, Iban Rodríguez, of the PNV. A concert by Atlantia Ë Ria is booked, which actually took place in the fall of that year. The recipient of the contract is the company Perexila Proyects SL Nominally, this company has no relationship with the ‘case of MIguel’, but the reality is that its CIF is B01391713 and that its date of incorporation is 2005. San Juan, In these years, it has changed its name to Errexal SL, one of the central companies in the De Miguel network. In the ruling, it was proven that what is now called Perexila Projects -also acts commercially as Karabansarai Produkzioak- was used as a screen to collect illegal commissions and receive rigged contracts.

City Council sources indicate that they do not make “any assessment” in this regard beyond noting that they acted “in compliance with the legality” of the minor contracts, which allow direct awards if the value does not exceed 15,000 euros. “Normally, the fifty shows that are contracted annually from the Culture area to develop in Kultur Leioa respond to technical and programming criteria, not other factors. They respond to their interest and artistic quality, which are approved by municipal technicians “add these sources, who understand that the procedure does not differ in anything from other localities. The local government does not specify if the company of the former councilor for Culture has received more contracts.

What is really Errexal?

Errexal was a company controlled by the one who was “number two” of the PNV of Álava, Alfredo de Miguel, known as Txitxo. The politician participated in its gestation and controlled the accounting through his sister, Aintzane de Miguel. De Miguel had, in turn, a company with other leaders of the Alava PNV, Koldo Ochandiano and Aitor Tellería. It was called Kataia Consulting and it was in the name of the trio’s wives, who acted as front men. Errexal and Kataia Consulting were born with the same registered office, a beverage warehouse of De Miguel’s brother-in-law that later became ‘txoko’. As administrator of Errexal appeared from the beginning San Juan, friend of Txitxo from the time of EGI, the youth of the PNV.

If Kataia Consulting was set up on the same dates to collect 130,000 euros in bribery for an urban hit in Zambrana -money spent on a Saab, jewelry and a trip to Extremadura-, the judgment of the case proved that Errexal was created to channel a subsidy of 90,000 euros from the Youth area of ​​the Basque Government, led by a mutual friend of De Miguel and San Juan, Xabier Sánchez Robles, also convicted of the case. That money was intended for the six districts or gangs of Álava to hire a consultant to develop their youth plans. They had to do it before the year was out so as not to lose the funds. The six presidents of the gangs, all of them from the PNV, hired the same company in record time and carried out the same irregular maneuvers in the file. The ruling highlights that at that time Errexal had neither the means nor the experience. What led them all to the same unknown company with no track record? “They act in unison, following a recommendation made” due to “belonging to the same political party.” From there, from Sánchez Robles’ office, many more awards rained down “by finger”. Sánchez Robles split contracts or tolerated that some of them were paid without the evidence that the work was done. Errexal invoiced in this way at that time a total of 130,037.40 euros. And in addition, a subsidiary called Ortzi Muga was created so that, like Kataia Consulting, the awards would arrive three at a time.

The most serious criminal acts associated with this firm are its use as a front to collect illegal commissions, such as Kataia Consulting. It has been found that this was the case on at least two occasions for a value of 10,080 and 6,990 euros and with black money. After awards to the PNV-affiliated construction entrepreneur Jon Iñaki Echaburu, he paid a bribe to the corrupt network for an amount equivalent to 4% of the total value of the contract, from Alava city councils. To disguise the commission, Errexal issued invoices for alleged advisory or support work that was not carried out. Errexal handled B money and paid salaries to other PNV positions, such as Leire Orueta and Roberto González Muro. The Prosecutor’s Office considered that this company was a “placeholder” of positions of the party.

In addition, in two electoral campaigns the PNV contracted events with this company. This was the case in the European elections of 2009, in which the PNV participated in a coalition with the CiU and the Canary Islands Coalition, and in the regional elections of the same year. The invoices sent by Errexal to the party are 47,623.80, 28,257.60, 9,848.40 and 6,159.60 euros for political acts, according to the company’s accounts. This yields a total of 91,889.40 euros. San Juan and Txitxo also prepared a proposal to organize activities for children in the ‘batzokis’, from inflatables to clown performances.

The case was tried in 2018 after a long investigation phase. The sentence came in December 2019, ten years after Alberdi’s complaint. That ruling of the Provincial Court of Álava – the court was made up of Jaime Tapia, Elena Cabero and Raúl Aztiria – is now being reviewed by the Supreme Court after the resources of the majority of those convicted, without a date for its resolution. Another group of defendants chose to confess and agree to a reduction with the Prosecutor’s Office.

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