La jueza Alaya vuelve a reabrir el caso de la mina de Aznalcollar y cita como investigado a un alto cargo de Pedro Sanchez

In the 1998 image, aerial view of the rupture of the raft that caused the spill. EFE FILE

Automated tanslation from Spanish into English of the article on (October 1, 2019): 

Judge Alaya reopens the case of the Aznalcóllar mine and cites Pedro Sánchez as being under investigation

The Audience of Seville asks that the president of the Sociedad Estatal de Participaciones Industriales (SEPI), Vicente Fernández, then Secretary General of Industry of the Junta de Andalucía, be called to declare himself.

The Acting Finance Minister announces that Fernandez has already put his position at the disposal of the Government, which will materialize in the next Council of Ministers.

A court in Seville twice filed the case for the award of the Aznalcóllar mine, which Mercedes Alaya also reopened for the second time.

The judge understands that "has not come to distort the provisional classification of arbitrary resolutions of the Junta de Andalucía".

The Seventh Section of the Provincial Court of Seville has reopened (and did three years ago) the case for the award of the mining reserve of Aznalcóllar (Seville). It has done so through an order of which has been rapporteur Judge Mercedes Alaya, instructor for several years of the macro-cause of the fraudulent ERE of Andalusia, in which she calls to declare as investigated Vicente Fernandez, then secretary general of Industry of the Junta de Andalucia and since June 2018 president of the Sociedad Estatal de Participaciones Industriales (SEPI) in the Spanish Government presided over by Pedro Sanchez.

Asked by journalists in Algeciras (Cádiz), the acting Finance Minister, María Jesús Montero, has announced that Vicente Fernández has placed his post at the disposal of the Government, which will materialize in the next Council of Ministers.

The Court of Instruction number three of Seville, commanded by Judge Patricia Fernández Franco, filed last March for the second time (it did so in November 2015) the investigation promoted through criminal proceedings regarding the award of the rights to exploit the Aznalcóllar mining deposit to the business group Mexico Minorbis, a subsidiary of Magtel. Alaya now reopens the case after fully admitting the appeal filed by Emérita Resources España SLU, which lost the contest.

The case, let us remember it, derives from the challenge to the resolution of the international competition promoted by the Junta de Andalucía to award the exploitation rights of the Aznalcóllar mine, closed after the well-known environmental disaster of 1998. The aforementioned competition was attended by the business group Mexico Minorbis, participated by the Andalusian Magtel, and Emerita-Forbes Manhattan, and the exploitation rights were awarded to the group Mexico Minorbis.

After the rights to exploit the mine were awarded to Mexico Minorbis, Emerita-Forbes Manhattan filed a complaint with the courts accusing the autonomous administration of having committed alleged crimes of prevarication, bribery, influence peddling and fraud, claiming among other aspects that its economic offer far surpassed that of Minorbis.

Thanks to this complaint, Judge Patricia Fernández Franco came to appreciate "serious irregularities" in the award process, even investigating the then Director General of Industry, Energy and Mines of the Regional Government of Andalusia, removed from that position until the investigating judge of the case later decided to close the proceedings. However, faced with the challenges to that decision by Emerita and Manos Limpias, the Provincial Court, Mercedes Alaya herself, ordered in 2016 the reopening of the judicial investigation, as she has done now by reopening the case.

"Friendly Relations"

However, according to the order admitted by the Court and despite the fact that in October 2017 the Central Operative Unit (UCO) of the Guardia Civil did not detect "any communication or document that would allow inferring the existence of influences on the members of the Technical Committee or the Contest Board to favor one or another bidding company" after analyzing 124.012 e-mails from three senior officials and 12 officials of the Ministry of Employment related to the award, it is deemed appropriate to call the president of SEPI and two other people, with "friendly relations", since "to the extent that the decisions of the Technical Committee and the Contracting Committee were taken jointly would be responsible all its members, so it is illogical to cite as investigated some and not others.

The last appeal of Emerita insisted that "the application of evaluation criteria by the Technical Commission not contemplated in the bases, being valued equally in the appeal the different technical criteria on both projects contemplated in the specifications, considering in this sense that the calculations to obtain the so-called ´point of equilibrium´ were made in the project of Emerita, and was better than the one established in the project of Minorbis".

Alaya estimates the appeal because "of what was practiced" by the examining magistrate after the order of the Seventh Section dated October 19, 2016, which revoked the provisional dismissal of the proceedings and ordered the reopening of the proceedings, "has not come to undermine the provisional qualification of arbitrary resolutions of the Junta de Andalucía" relating to the competition for the award of mining rights of the Aznalcollar mine.

After warning of "the inexistence of motive that explains why Grupo Mexico did not participate by itself in the contest and used Minorbis to do so, except for the advantages that could offer this last entity in order to obtain the concession," the order highlights that it "requires an investigation into an alleged crime of influence peddling, and in its case of fraud and illegal exactions and this derived from the study that this Court has made of the emails between Vicente Fernandez Guerrero and representatives of Magtel, exposed and analyzed in the report of the UCO.

"The key to the contest"

"From them an excellent personal relationship between both parties can be inferred through reciprocal mails sent and answered even on Saturdays and Sundays at unseemly hours, where the request on the part of representatives of Magtel to D would be exposed.Vicente Fernández of his intermediation in administrative matters for the business projects of the mentioned company, offering the same the referred Secretary of the Department, including through his contact persons in the Administration, and even provisionally agreeing to Magtel´s request to unify the municipal ordinances of the Town Halls for their projects", states the order.

The judge relates that acquires important significance the narrated by Emérita about that before the beginning of the contest, the day 11 of April of 2014 D. Isidro L M representative of Minorbis, subsidiary of Magtel, went to the offices of Emérita to propose the recasting of both projects in order to obtain the award, warning him that Magtel "had the key to the tender" and that to prove it he announced that five minutes after he left they would receive a call from the Department of Innovation, and that effectively after that time they received the call from the Secretary of the Department D. Vicente Fernandez, a phone call that the latter acknowledged having made.

Similarly, says the order, "could constitute evidence of a possible crime of bribery and greater evidence of the idea by those who have corresponded to the crime of prevarication investigated, the promotions of people related to the contest mentioned in the appeal, because such promotions could be considered a reward for the illegal acts allegedly performed.

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