Friday, September 30

The ‘money junkie’, on the defendant’s bench in the first trial of the ‘Taula case’ with the PP as civil responsible

The first trial of the macro-cause of Imelsa, that of the Thematica piece, will start this Monday, May 2, at the Valencia Court, and will seat the former manager of the public company Imelsa, Marcos Benavent, self-styled ‘money junkie’.

A ‘money junkie’ company investigated in the ‘Taula case’ paid for three electoral campaigns of the Valencian PP

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The hearing will take place after more than six years since the first arrests were made in this procedure – in 2014 Esquerra Unida took recordings with the alleged irregularities to the Prosecutor’s Office and in January 2016 the first arrests were made.

A total of 19 sessions have been scheduled —from May 2 to June 21— that will start at 10 am in the Tirant II room of the City of Justice of Valencia. Monday will be dedicated to previous issues and Benavent’s statement is expected; his presumed figurehead, José Estarlich; and businessman José Antonio Toledo. On May 4, 5 and 10, the rest of the accused in the procedure will continue to testify.

The piece that is going to be judged deals with alleged irregularities in awards to the company Thematica Events. This is the first piece of the procedure on which an indictment was issued for crimes of prevarication, embezzlement of public funds, falsehood in a commercial document and in an official document carried out by officials, contracting fraud and money laundering.

In this piece are investigated, among others, Marcos Benavent, for whom the Prosecutor’s Office requests eight years and three months in prison; the former vice president of the Diputación de Valencia and former mayor of Moncada with the PP, Juan José Medina —five years—, and Rafael García Barat, administrator of Thematica Events —seven years—.

It so happens that Benavent has changed his version of what happened in recent months and while at the beginning, in collaboration with the Prosecutor’s Office, he pointed to different charges and affirmed that there was corruption in Valencia, he finally modified his accusations, asked for forgiveness and pointed out that he had manipulated the recordings that gave rise to the procedure.

“criminal operation”

In the Thematica case, according to the Prosecutor’s Office, a “criminal operation” was designed to divert public funds using Imelsa -currently Divalterra- by its leaders, including Benavent, by decision of the former ‘popular’ president of the Diputación de València, Alfonso Rus.

Thus, the alleged diversion of funds for the payment of electoral campaigns of the PP in the municipal elections of 2007 and in the general elections of 2008 has been investigated.

The Prosecutor’s Office believes that for the municipal elections of May 2007, Thematica Events carried out electoral campaign acts of the PP of Juan José Medina for an amount of 11,782.77 euros (VAT not included) that would have been paid by Imelsa through raising fictitious costs in real billing with the company, having “full knowledge” of it both Marcos Benavent and Juan José Medina, who held the position of campaign coordinator of the PP and vice president of the Provincial Council of Valencia “.

Within the same municipal elections, Thematica Events carried out electoral campaign work for the popular candidate for mayor of Vilamarxant, Vicente Betoret, —against whom no accusation is directed as the facts prescribed for him— which would have been paid by Imelsa and hidden from the Court of Auditors in the accounts that the parties must present as electoral expenses.

The case also refers to the “rigged” award of the Bibliobus contract for the years 2008 and 2009 with the Department of Culture —at that time directed by the late María José Alcón— of the “fraudulent” concert of the year 2010 for this service . The company Liberty Iceberg, whose administrator and sole partner was Rafael García Barat, would also participate in this predetermined contracting.

In this case, the formula described consisted of, although the actual amount of the contract was more than 89,000 euros, “chopping each of the awards of a single contractual object to avoid free competition and publicity”, maintains the Public Ministry.

Thematica also participated in ‘Metamorphosis’, an audiovisual show framed among the actions that, by Imelsa in collaboration with MuVIM, were carried out to promote monumental trees. The cost finally assumed by Imelsa as a result of the contracted show amounted to 234,645 euros, although the enrichment, according to Anticorruption, went to the company chosen by Marcos Benavent to obtain the benefits of said contract.

In this way, Thematica would have done no more than subcontract the services “obtaining significant benefits to the detriment of the public company by making an extra cost in part of the billings finally assumed by Imelsa”.