Cases of property corruption scandals up 40% in 2008

A night out on the tiles with escorts is enough of a bribe for some public officials.

The Spanish police investigated 164 property corruption scandals in 2008, up 40% from 117 cases in 2007, according to figures from the Ministry of the Interior. The number of related arrests rose from 134 in 2007 to 207 last year, a 54% increase.

Last year the Civil Guard introduced special teams dedicated exclusively to property and town planning corruption, which also helps to explain the increase in police investigations into municipal corruption scandals linked to property and town planning.

The police report being overloaded with new cases, and a mountain of documentation that has been seized.

Police operations into municipal corruption scandals are time consuming, and often take several years from start to finish. “We began to investigate the case a year and a half before arresting the Mayor and other suspects last November,” the head of the ‘Operation Biblioteca’ investigation into town planning corruption in Librilla, Murcia, told the Spanish daily ‘Publico. “We still have to examine a huge amount of documentation that we seized to know to what extent those arrested enriched themselves.”

Police also report that the suspects live with a “sense of impunity.”

“There comes a moment when they lose the sense that what they are doing is illegal, and they are surprised when they are arrested,” explains one police inspector. “They say they are not doing anything different to their predecessors, and that they thought it was good for their community.”

In numerous instances, the bribes that public officials accept are surprisingly trivial. “A night out on the tiles with escorts, a job for a family member….is enough for some,” says a police source, quoted in the Spanish press.

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