Monday, June 27

Corruption hits the PP and the PSPV for bites in the Rita Barberà stage

Operation Azud II ended yesterday with the arrest of the deputy mayor of the Valencia City Council and right-hand man of Barberá, Alfonso Grau (PP), and the until yesterday subdelegate of the Government in Valencia, Rafael Rubio (PSPV), which was abruptly dismissed by the Government delegate, Gloria Calero, barely an hour after his arrest was revealed.

Along with the two of them, the UCO also arrested the head of Divalterra’s legal services early yesterday, Jose Luis Vera, one of Grau’s daughters and the businessman who appears as the epicenter of this new plot: the builder Jaime Maria Febrer, alleged corrupter of politicians and municipal officials with the payment of commissions and expensive gifts for at least five years. All these gifts and bribes were aimed at obtaining construction rights on municipal land or acquiring public plots to build both protected and free rental housing.

In total, there are 21 allegedly involved -14 detained and 7 investigated- and more than 40 planned searches, between homes, companies and offices in official headquarters. The complexity of the operation has made it necessary to postpone part of these searches until today.

Sources consulted by this newspaper said that the Civil Guard intervened abundant documentation in yesterday’s records and that it expects to have much more after requesting the Valencia City Council files, reports and contracts in which those now detained between 2005 and 2010 intervened.

According to the investigations carried out by the UCO agents, based on the documentation intervened during the first phase of Azud, in April 2019, one of the first operations under suspicion was the purchase by Febrer of two plots in the Cabanyal that was able to exchange for a building municipal lot in the San Isidro neighborhood, which ended up selling for double what it had paid only five months after the land exchange.

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Febrer had bought the two Cabanyal houses – priced by the technicians at 14,400 euros and for which he said he had paid 243,650, the price admitted by the city council – just three months before Grau decided they were perfect for expanding the Museum of Holy Week Marinera.

Members of the UCO of the Civil Guard and the judicial commission leave the garage of Rafael Rubio’s house. | GERMÁN CABALLERO

Rubio’s public complaint

And went Rubio who, as spokesman for the socialist group in the Barberá consistory, publicly denounced that “good ball”, in his own words, in September 2005, three long years after it took place.

This operation is included in this court case, but it cannot be prosecuted because the possible crimes would have prescribed.

However, it has served to verify the operational mechanics of the plot allegedly led by Febrer and provides another curious fact: the 300,000 euros in cash that Rafael Rubio would have received from the plot would have been paid to him two years after his public complaint, in 2007.

According to the investigators, it would have been the lawyer José Luis Vera who would have put Rubio in contact with Febrer on a date after the political criticism of the second to the Cabanyal swap. Vera is also under the police scrutiny as a supposed mediator between the Febrer plot and some socialist municipalities.

With respect to Alfonso Grau, who is sentenced to four years in prison for bribery and money laundering tAfter having received two watches from another contractor of the Valencia City Council, the investigation puts the money allegedly received by the former vice mayor at just over one million euros.

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The arrests began at eight o’clock in the morning yesterday at the homes of those investigated. Grau, his daughter and Rubio were arrested in their homes, in Valencia, while Vera was arrested in his house in Macastre. In addition, there were two arrested in Alicante, another in Madrid and three more in Tomelloso (Ciudad Real). As for the builder, he was arrested in Ibiza where he was circumstantially.

The two longest searches were those carried out in the homes of Rubio and Grau, where the Civil Guard and the judicial commission stayed for eight and nine hours, respectively. There were also records in Rubio’s offices in the Government Sub-delegation and in Vera’s in Divalterra, both made yesterday afternoon.

After completing these proceedings, the agents transferred the detainees to different barracks in València, Paiporta, Alfafar and Moncada. Those arrested will not go to court until Saturday morning. Until that moment, they will be offered to declare before the Civil Guard and the agents will complete the records and actions still pending.

At the home of the former subdelegate of the Government, the Civil Guard had to request the presence of a locksmith to open the safe with a radio, after it was impossible to access its contents with the help of the detainee. Inside, mostly documentation has been found.

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