At 2:12 p.m. on July 29, 2020, after three hours of intense interrogation, José Manuel Calvente completes the testimony that the storm will unleash. “Certain people have believed that this party is their patrimonial company, their farm,” this former Podemos lawyer told the judge, confronted with the leadership after a dismissal for alleged sexual harassment that ended up shelved. His complaint has served to open extensive investigations baptized as Neuron casebut the weight of your statement deflates. The instructor has already shelved two of the open lines of investigation due to the lack of evidence; the Prosecutor’s Office does not attach any importance to his words; and the training focuses its defense on the part of the contracts with the Neurona consultancy, for which it has provided new documentation
The latest setback to Calvente’s version occurred last week and Podemos celebrated it relentlessly for its symbolic value. Judge Juan José Escalonilla dismissed the part that dealt with the party’s solidarity fund, a fund to which public officials donate part of their salary for social purposes and that the opposition, with PP and Cs at the head, described as the “ box b ”from Iglesias. According to the complainant, 50,000 euros of that money had been diverted and ended up in the pocket of deputy Rafa Mayoral. But the magistrate dismisses it. “The amount of atrocities, hoaxes and slander that were said from the (ultra) political and media right about our solidarity fund, calling it box B, like that of the criminals of the PP. Well, archived ”, protests Pablo Echenique, spokesman in Congress.
That decision thinned out a cause that, based on the story of the former Podemos lawyer, was born with more axes: the contracts signed with the consultants Neurona and ABD Europa for the elections of April 28, 2019 (the part about this second company was also dismissed in September); the reform of the new party headquarters; the payment of supposed “bonuses”; and the access by the leadership without permission to the hard drive of Marta Flor, also a lawyer for the formation – who was the one who, precisely, denounced Calvente for harassment. For the opposition, all this sprang up in the summer as ammunition against the government, while Pedro Sánchez chose to support Vice President Pablo Iglesias.
The Prosecutor’s Office defends, for its part, that all these investigations should be shelved as they are based on “rumors”, except for the work of Neurona, where it does see signs of crime, although not attributable to the party as a legal entity. And there nothing Calvente contributes: “No information is offered by the complainant other than the request issued by the Court of Auditors and the manifestation of suspicions,” the prosecutor Lorena Álvarez sentenced in a letter dated September 7. “There are rational indications that the payments made to the mercantile company, [más de 360.000 euros]They did not have the purpose of paying for any service rendered, ”deepens the judge, who expanded the list of defendants last week and called Carlos García (IU), co-administrator of the account shared by the United We Can coalition.
Three blocks of jobs
We can actually navigate at two speeds in this case. While he celebrates that the judge is discarding lines of investigation, he observes how the part about his contracts with Neurona, in the opinion of the instructor, takes shape in the courts – where, by the way, he waits for the Supreme Court to decide whether to open a case against Iglesias for his paper in the Dina case—.
Even so, the formation insists that everything will come to nothing, but in their ranks there is concern in their ranks about the media significance of the parade of senior officials before the judge scheduled for November – the manager, the treasurer and the secretary of Communication will declare, among others. The management, as a counterattack, has already sent documentation to the instructor to try to prove that Neurona did work for them. That it was not “smoke”, as Calvente said. In one of these reports, to which EL PAÍS has had access, we can distinguish between three types of work carried out by the consulting firm: “strategic coordination of pre-campaign and campaign”, “audiovisual and design works” and “audiovisual graphic coverage of pre -campaign and campaign ”.
The party assures that there were numerous meetings between the Podemos campaign management and a part of the Neurona team. For example, “for the collection of information and interviews that allowed their consultants to obtain updated information on the Spanish political reality, the parties that were running for election at that time and the political organization with which they were going to carry out the work” . According to this report, Neurona also participated “in the design of the questionnaires that were used in the survey waves”, as well as in the preparation of “audiovisual and design” material (on tax justice, cannabis or bullfighting, among other matters) developed by a team from the company that traveled to Spain.
Training goes into detail. It breaks down in an annex some of the more than 1,400 “products” that, according to the party, Neurona would have made, such as “recordings, coverage of debates and interventions in the media, editions and images and production of events.” In addition, it affects, its representatives participated in situ in nine campaign events: among them, the one held in the Plaza del Reina Sofía in Madrid on March 23, and the opening and closing of the race to the polls. It has also provided documentation – rental contracts and invoices for the purchase of computer material and equipment – of the Big Data Room, the place from where “the campaign teams, including the members of Neurona, worked,” according to another document incorporated into the cause. .
At the head of these tasks were, according to Podemos, four components of the “Neurona human team in charge of providing services.” The party provides their names: Cesar Hernández Paredes, founding partner of the consulting firm and identified in the investigations from the beginning; Carlos Portillo, whom he introduces himself as “writer, playwright, journalist” and “creative director of Neurona”; René Ramírez Gallegos and Waldemar Aguado Butanda, “coordinators” of the work.
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