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Spain – Public inquiry into management of Malaga racetrack

By - 23 May 2017

There is growing controversy surrounding the management of the racetrack Hippodrome Costa del Sol, in the Andalusia municipality of Mijas.

After a number of allegations prosecutors have now 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.

According to local news reports, 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 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 now want 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 has fully approved the creation of an inquiry into the matter.

The racecourse held its first race on June 19 1999 however it suffered years of declining revenues. In November 2013 it was announced that there would be no more horse races at the track. The track is also the site of other sporting facilities including a football pitch, gym, athletics track, show jumping school, stables and horse therapy facilities. In March Mayor Juan Carlos Maldonado of the city council began the sale of the company Recursos Turísticos de Mijas the company that manages the facilities as it has been the “cause of a constant loss of money for Mijas in recent years.”

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