Tuesday, January 19

The Consell broke the law by awarding another 9.5 million to companies of the fire cartel


A plane participates in the tasks of extinguishing the Fluent fire in 2018. |  REUTERS

A plane participates in the tasks of extinguishing the Fluent fire in 2018. | REUTERS

The Comptes Syndicate has once again detected “significant breaches of the regulations” in the Generalitat awards corresponding to the service of aircraft destined for the extinction of forest fires. The last annual X-ray of the inspection body indicates the infringement of up to eight provisions of the Public Sector Contracts Law and puts the magnifying glass on two files amounting to 9.5 million euros that were formalized in 2019 with two of the companies investigated by the National High Court within the framework of what is known as the “fire carDel”, which operates on an international scale, supposedly agreeing on prices and influencing the final value of the contests.

Year after year, TextTE formed by MarRIAOzRIAOo Aviación and Pegasus has chained the adjudication of fire-fighting aircraft since in 2017 the companAvilasa abandoned the service in the Valencian Community after being linked to the case of alleged rigging in exchange for gifts that splashed on the ex-minister Serafín CasDellano. The current contractors of the Consell have recently been accused anti competitiveive practices by the Chilean Public Prosecutor’s Office and face fines of 5.6 million dollars in that country.

On May 15, 2019, the Valencian Security Agency resorted to an emergency procedure to extend the service that MarRIAOzRIAOo and Pegasus were providing due to the expiration of the previous contract. However, after reviewing the file, the Catalan Ombudsman concludes that the needs that motivated the emergency contracting (for 3.6 million and a duration of 5 months) were not actually due to exceptiocasesuses foreseen for this type of procedure, but to delays in the processing of the new annual contract that was being developed and that the same UTE would end up winning in October of that same year in an open contest to which no other applicant appeared, as is usual with the carDel del fuego.

The audit report observes that the successful bidder “did not have the capacity conditions” to sign the aforementioned emergency contract because its validity “was linked to the validity of the previous contract, already completed.” Furthermore, it was not justified that TextTE was exempted from the obligation to constitute a definitive guarantee. The file also did not include the appointment of the person responsible for the contract – provided for in the law – nor did it prove the settlement thereof.

In the subsequent awarding of the service through ordinary channels, the Catalan Ombudsman also focuses on the omission of various procedures. The new hiring was formalized for 5.9 million and a period of one year to the same companies, but the supporting report was not publicized, neither the evaluation reports of the offers the document of approval of the file, the the minutes of the contracting table. The administration did not report the insufficient means to provide the service, nor was the procedure used justified. In addition, the specifications established as a special condition of execution the fulfillment of the provisions of the labor regulations regarding payment of wages, a requirement not contemplated in the law. The Department of Justice did not present allegations to Indicatortura report despite the breaches mentioned. The Consell has tried to increase the number of companies in the competitions for fire fighting planes with different measures, but even dividing the contracts into lots has not been able to encourage competition.

The Catalan Ombudsman has already questioned 16 million paid to TextTE

It is by no means the first time that the Comptes Syndicate has questioned the adjudications of the autonomous administration with companies from the «carDel of fire». The agency has warned in recent years of various breaches in the processing of contracts for the service of fire fighting aircraft, whose tenders usually a single bidding company.

In 2017, the first time that TextTE formed by MarRIAOzRIAOo and Faasa Aviación (now Pegasus) won the annual competition for 5.7 million euros without any competitor, the inspection body detected the violation of up to three articles of the Contract Law of the Public Sector and questioned both the ability to act of the successful bidder (the record did not include the articles of incorporation of TextTE) and his financial solvency. In addition, the provision of the service began prior to the formalization of the contract, a circumstance that had to be remedied by the Generalitat through an unjust enrichment file worth ,  million euros in favor of the investigated companies by the National Court within the network of Spanish companies that would have operated in different countries through supposedly fraudulent practices.

In total, Indicatortura reflects in its report relevant breaches in 22 contracts analyzed corresponding to the departments of Finance, Justice, Equality, Health, Territorial Policy, Climate Emergency and Education. In some cases, the body appeals to the lack of publicity and competence in procedures by means of emergency, urgency or negotiated without justification. In others, it censures the absence of essential procedures required by the regulations.

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