Spain – Investigation into racetrack in Malaga now closedBy Phil - 19 September 2017
The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office has closed the investigation into irregularities surrounding the management of the racetrack Hippodrome Costa del Sol, in the Andalusia municipality of Mijas.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office although there are indications that a number of crimes may have occurred, the statute of limitations has lapsed. However the cause could be reopened by a court in the future.
In May, the prosecutor’s office requested that a series of investigations be carried out into the events surrounding the management of the racetrack since its construction involved a number of alleged crimes including “fraud, embezzlement and the perversion of justice.” This was after a complaint was filed by Councillor Francisco Martínez in February who said that he had received a report from the town clerk citing a series of alleged criminal acts, which set the investigation into motion.
Prosecutors detected a series of allegedly irregular payments made by the previous administration from publically owned company Mijas Avanza to Recursos Turísticos de Mijas, the municipal company that runs the enclosure. However now that the investigation has been completed, the prosecutor has acknowledged in writing that while a number of crimes, such as embezzlement, fraud and influence peddling, may have been committed those involved can no longer be accused due to the fact that the statue of limitations has passed and therefore the case is closed. However, despite the Prosecutor’s Office’s findings, the case could still be reviewed by a court. As a result Councillor Francisco Martínez, has announced that he plans to try and get the case reopened.
According to local news reports in May, former Finance Minister Mario Bravo was responsible for the transfer of a total of €568,000 from Mijas Avanza to the company in charge of the track as a “loan” between January and April 2012. In addition in April 2015 a further €239,000 was lent from the municipal coffers to the operator of the racetrack of which the city council was already a guarantor.
Both operations it is affirmed were not carried out via correct and proper channels as public money was lent to a business “that is not 100 per cent public” and that was already reporting huge losses. The company recorded losses of €530,000 in 2011, €801,000 in 2012, another €603,000 in 2013 and, finally €1.7m in 2014. In all the company recorded €3m in losses in addition to a further €1.8 m which the city government has been paying as rent to the company for additional sports facilities on site.
Lawmakers wanted to know why the previous government did not sell the company especially as in 2015 the Ministry of Finance stated that the contract for the company managing the track should have expired in 2014. As a result of these alleged irregularities, the local executive fully approved the creation of an inquiry into the matter earlier this year.