The PSPV-PSOE spokesman in the Valencian Courts, Manolo Mata, will act as a lawyer for the real estate businessman Jaime Febrer, considered the alleged leader of the so-called Azud case, the urban corruption plot that he charged bites to get public works, between 2004 and 2011, in which historical socialist leaders are also investigated. The case is open for crimes of prevarication, bribery, document falsification, money laundering, influence peddling and illicit association.
Mata confirmed that he will assume the code-defense of Febrer together with his “friend” the lawyer Miguel Vergara, after ‘Las Provincias’ revealed that the Ximo Puig’s right hand he had visited the Picassent jail to meet with his now represented. The builder is in preventive prison together with, until his arrest, the sub-delegate of the Government in Valencia, the socialist Rafael Rubio, and the former vice mayor of the city and number two of Rita Barberá, Alfonso Grau. The three are still incarcerated, by order of the Court of Instruction number 13 due to the risk of destruction of evidence, after being arrested in mid-May along with 11 other people in the second phase of this operation.
In addition to Rubio, close to the minister Jose Luis Ábalos, with whom the opposition group shared during the golden age of the PP in the Valencia City Council and prosecuted in another case about irregular hiring of workers in a public company, there are two other people closely linked to the PSPV investigated in this plot. One of them is Pepe Catalonia, historical secretary of Finance of the party. The other, Jose Luis Vera, current head of the legal services of Divalterra, a company of the Diputación de Valencia governed by the Socialists with Compromís.
The agents of the Central Operational Unit (UCO) of the Civil Guard place Jaime Febrer at the center of a network of bribes to politicians from town councils throughout the Valencian Community, including that of the capital, and various local and state public entities to obtain contract awards and urban operations. This is how the documents and annotations would prove it -in the style of the Bárcenas papers- that they found in their offices thanks to the trace they left Jose Maria Corbín, lawyer and brother-in-law of Rita Barberá, detained in the first phase of the investigation two years ago for his alleged role as a mediator.
Investigators have not yet specified the amounts that would have been handled, although they estimate the money from the bites that Alfonso Grau would have received at one million euros and those from Rafael Rubio at less than half a million. However, they try to determine if part of these irregular commissions could go to the PSPV box, something that would be difficult to punish, since the crime of illegal party financing was not incorporated into the Penal Code until 2015 and, in any case, it would have already prescribed.
In this sense, the socialist spokesman, Manolo Mata, has no legal impediment to exercise the code-defense of Febrer because he resigned his exclusive dedication and can combine his parliamentary work with his role as a criminal lawyer. Furthermore, there is no conflict of interest because neither “he worked in the city council or had anything to do with the Generalitat.”
At a press conference last Wednesday, he stated that he did not know Febrer and stressed that “It is not a party decision” and “no one” from the PSOE has asked him to do so, but acts based on their professional vocation. “If one day I have to choose one thing or another, I will choose to be a lawyer: it is my life, this – politics – is an accidental question,” he said. Asked about his relationship with Rafael Rubio, Mata indicated that he would be surprised “very much if he had done something illegal”, so he hopes that his situation will be clarified “as soon as possible” because it “hurts” to see him behind bars and “radically” supports his innocence .
From the “legal” to the “aesthetic”
However, from the opposition they do not believe that this movement is as “legal, ethical and aesthetic” as he defends and they point out that it will serve Mata to obtain information on a case under summary secrecyand act as transmission belt to Ximo Puig. The PP has demanded his appearance in the investigation commission on the Azud case that will be opened in the Valencian Courts for what it considers a “scandal”, while Ciudadanos has demanded his resignation for a matter that he sees as “dark”.
Despite the official silence of both the PSPV and the Presidency of the Generalitat, the discomfort in both cases is also evident. Mata is not only the deputy secretary general of the party, but one of the authorized voices of the formation. In addition, he has built a good reputation for his ability to reach agreements, but also a reputation for loose verse. Therefore, some of his colleagues interpret his decision as a misstep that puts Puig in trouble and to the autonomous tripartite and opens the door to “conspiracy theories”, as he himself described them.
The other two partners of the Valencian Government -Compromís and Unidas Podemos- have closed ranks around the Socialist spokesman, but acknowledge that “he has experience in generating certain controversies.” Even the vice president of the Generalitat, Mónica Oltra, settled the matter by referring to the fact that “Kill is Kill”.
In some circles it is already suspected that this maneuver of the number two of the PSPV is the first step towards your relief in office, which would not arrive until the regional congress scheduled for the end of the year is held.
The fall in the billing of the lawyer José María Corbin’s office, since his sister-in-law Rita Barberá left the Valencia Mayor’s Office in 2015, uncovered a network of bribery for which a dozen people were arrested in 2019 who were released.
Two years after this first phase, in May 2021, the UCO carried out searches in homes and in the Town Planning area of the City Council, after which 14 people were arrested. Alfonso Grau (PP), Rafael Rubio (PSPV) and the alleged leader of the plot, Jaime Febrer, stood out.
Prison without bail
The judge decreed that these three investigated be admitted to prison without bail, given the risk of destruction of evidence.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism