Britons who have bought property in Spain maybe sick to the back teeth of town hall corruption scandals, but at least they are in good company. The Spanish press reports that an urbanisation in Vera (Almeria), where Spain’s socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero bought a holiday home, is the focus of a new corruption scandal involving the alleged payment of bribes for planning permission.
According to press reports, David Marino, ex-general manager of a developer called Dico, has claimed, in a notarised affidavit, that a bribe of 600,000 Euros was paid to obtain planning permission for an urbanisation called El Mirador de Vera where Zapatero bought a holiday home a few years ago. The anti-corruption prosecutor has started an investigation into the alleged bribe.
Rumour has it that Zapatero, who bought a semi-detached bungalow on the urbanisation for around 450,000 Euros from a private vendor, may have already sold his property, though the property is reported to be still in his name in the official property register.
Marino claims that his former employer paid bribes to officials of the town hall, run by the Andalucista Party, to reclassify 300,000m2 of rural land into building land, making the land ten times more valuable. A total of 5 million Euros in bribes were paid in various different deals, he claims.
Furthermore, the El Mirador de Vera urbanisation is built on an old riverbed, causing numerous problems for owners whose basements have been flooded.
Julián Jiménez de los Galanes, president of the developer Dico, denies all the accusations made by Merino, dismissing them as motivated by spite. He told the Spanish press that there is no proof that any bribes were paid, and that the prosecutor will soon shelve the investigation. Like many other Spanish developers, Dico is currently in administration for insolvency.
Zapatero is not the first political big cheese to own a holiday home affected by controversy. In 2005, former president José María Aznar bought a penthouse in the Hoyo 15 development of Guadalmina Baja, one of Marbella’s numerous illegal developments.
There is no suggestion that Zapatero is in any way implicated in the corruption scandal.