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Gürtel, a pioneer case in Spain

In May 2018, the Spanish Popular Party (PP) became the first political organization to be convicted of corruption in the European country. The National Court issued its verdict against the largest corruption case in times of democracy in Spain, proving the guilt of three businessmen: Francisco Correa, leader of the PP; Pablo Crespo, former secretary general of the PP; and Álvaro Pérez.

The highest sentence was received by Francisco Correawhose surname was used to name the Gürtel case (by translating the word Correa into German), and who will serve 51 years and 11 months in prison. However, sentences were imposed on at least 34 people involved for various crimes such as fraud, embezzlement, misappropriation of funds, false documentation, illicit association, money laundering, influence peddling, misappropriation, among others.

The result of the investigations initiated in 2007 led to the dismissal of President Mariano Rajoy.. The Gürtel case is about the crime of corruption on a large scale, as a network of companies obtained contracts on behalf of the PP throughout Spain. To achieve this, it bribed public officials with decision-making power over these contracts. Frequently, part of the economic resources obtained were used to finance political and electoral campaigns in favor of the party.

Gürtel came to light

The case began to be investigated in 2007 when a former PP councilman, José Luis PeñasThe company denounced what happened and presented as evidence 18 hours of recordings of conversations between the leaders of the corruption network.

The evidence was studied by Judge Baltazar Garzón.who determined that the group of companies investigated (23 in total) was feeding from public funds of the communities high amounts of money to obtain contracts, events and activities with large margins of money.

Following the order issued by Judge Garzón, the criminal responsibilities of the defendants were determined. At least 300 people testified at the hearing, including Mariano Rajoy in his capacity as president.

The PP was also convicted as a participant in a lucrative capacity 245,000 euros. This sentence made it the first political party in Spain to be accused of corruption.

The Gürtel case scandal was a shadow that closely followed Rajoy's government. During the first investigations, the Spanish president did not acknowledge the existence of a corruption network, even assuring that these were isolated cases, according to statements reported in a BBC article. However, the content of the verdict of the central trial of the case led to the motion of censure The first of the four cases filed in Spanish history to become effective.

Sources consulted