Saturday, January 22

Neurona Case: The Madrid Court definitively files the case of the Podemos solidarity fund | Spain

The then leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias (in the center), accompanied by party deputy Rafael Mayoral and judge Victoria Rosell, in 2019.
The then leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias (in the center), accompanied by party deputy Rafael Mayoral and judge Victoria Rosell, in 2019.Carlos Diaz

The news of Neuron case they breathe air into Podemos. Twice. In the first place, the Provincial Court of Madrid has ordered the definitive filing of a secondary line of investigation focused on the party’s solidarity fund, a fund to which its officials donate part of their salary for social purposes and that had been placed under suspicion after a former training attorney denounced that it had been used to divert money. But also, in the main part of the investigations, the Prosecutor’s Office has concluded that there are no indications that the contract signed with the Mexican consulting firm Neurona was “simulated.” This was the initial thesis of the investigating judge.

The Neuron case It began more than a year and a half ago, and it maintains the party itself as a legal entity. Judge Juan José Escalonilla opened the investigation after receiving a complaint from José Manuel Calvente, a former Podemos lawyer who is at odds with the leadership and who narrated a whole battery of alleged irregularities. His testimony gave rise to a macrocause with up to seven lines of investigation, which have been progressively closed. In fact, as of today, only one of them is active: the one related to the contract signed with Neurona to carry out consulting work in the general elections of April 2019.

But, in this part of the investigations, the investigation also took a small turn at the end of 2021. At first, the judge suspected that Podemos paid Neurona more than 360,000 euros for tasks that he never carried out. That thesis changed last November, after Escalonilla declared that part of the work had been carried out as accredited. As a result, the magistrate commissioned an expert report to assess these projects and compare them with the price paid. A decision that the defense appealed and on which the Prosecutor’s Office is now ruling. Thus, for the first time, the public prosecutor leaves in writing that there are no indications that a “simulated contract” was sealed. Of course, the public prosecution supports the preparation of this expert to “exhaust the investigation”: “We understand that political training can contract with the providers it deems appropriate and the cost may not be reliably determined. However, the diligence is logical in view of the procedures carried out, so the resolution [del juez] it is in accordance with the law, ”the Prosecutor’s Office stated in a letter dated January 3.

The solidarity box

For his part, on the line of investigation focused on the solidarity fund, the investigating judge has already closed this part of the case on two occasions by not appreciating signs of unfair administration and confirming that “there is no evidence of diversion of funds.” And Section 30 of the Provincial Court of Madrid now dismisses the appeal of Vox and the former senator of Podemos Celia Cánovas against this file and decrees its definitive closure. In this way, six of the seven parts of the Neuron case. Although, in parallel, another derivative remains open: the one known as Nanny case, in which it is investigated whether an advisor to the current Minister of Equality, Irene Montero, served as a caregiver for the daughter of politics.

The origin of the investigation on the solidarity fund is found in Calvente’s complaint, which pointed out to the deputy Rafael Mayoral and assured that he had diverted 50,000 euros to the company # 404 Popular Communication. Despite the fact that the prosecutor did not see evidence of a crime, Escalonilla opened an investigation that ended up archiving for the first time in October 2020. This decision was then appealed by various accusations, which managed to reopen it. To close again in the absence of evidence and after carrying out various procedures, such as commissioning a study from the Police on bank transactions.

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The Provincial Court concludes that, as stated by the Prosecutor’s Office, “there is no evidence of the existence of distraction of the funds received by the Podemos party” and “there is no rule that prohibits donation to the entity 404”. “None of its members holds an organic position or a directive function in the party. In any case, there is no record of any payment to Rafael Mayoral as declared by the complainant, “adds the court, which points out that Cánovas’ appeal – to which Vox is added – is aimed at” reviewing the articles of the Regulations of the Caja de Solidarity ”, something that the court“ does not compete with ”. “If the appellant considers that said regulation allows donations to be made, apparently without the control of who manages its funds, this is a matter that must be resolved as an internal matter of the political party through the mechanisms that, where appropriate, contemplate its statutes and internal regulations. , and not through criminal law ”, he adds.

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