Pablo Iglesias, then leader of Podemos, in a public act in a sports center in Gijón, on April 5, 2019. JL CEREIJIDO (EFE)
faces another key date. Before January 28, the magistrate Juan José Escalonilla must decide whether to extend the maximum period foreseen for the open investigation against Podemos, which expires that day. According to legal sources, the judge has asked the parties their position on the extension of some investigations that keep the party accused and that have been deflated. After being born as a macro-cause, this has been drastically reduced: only one of the seven lines of investigation that it accumulated remains active. And, on that only part that has not been shelved, which focuses on the hiring of the Mexican consulting firm Neurona for the general elections of April 2019, the Prosecutor's Office is also beginning to drop its reticence.
In a letter dated January 3, the public ministry considers it already proven that Neurona sent employees to Spain to help with the campaign and that it carried out work commissioned by Podemos, the existence of which the judge initially doubted when describing the contract as “ simulated".
In fact, the magistrate has also considered it proven that part of these services were provided and has now commissioned an expert —the result of which is pending— to put a price on them and compare it with the 363,000 euros that were paid.
An initiative that has not been opposed by the Prosecutor's Office, which supports exhausting the investigation, but to which it sees little future: "We understand that training can contract with the providers it deems appropriate and it is possible that the cost cannot be reliably determined. ", He says.
In this way, the public accusation further punctures the bubble of the
, which was inflated by a former Podemos lawyer, José Manuel Calvente, in the summer of 2020, when he stood before Escalonilla to report a whole battery of alleged irregularities that justice has been discarding A testimony that the public ministry has always questioned for being based only on "rumours, suspicions or suspicions."
The contract under suspicion.
After listening to Calvente, the judge gave the green light to extensive inquiries with various lines of investigation. But, in a year and a half, the public ministry has only supported inquiring about one of them: the contract with Neurona, the only one that is still open. And never because of what was said by the party's former lawyer, but because of the misgivings shown by the Court of Auditors after the party presented it as an electoral expense. The Prosecutor's Office admits in its extensive letter of January 3 that there were "well-founded doubts about the reality of the contract", but in that same document it reviews all the tests carried out at this time and most of which support the thesis defended by the party.
For example, the public accusation rules out that other providers were hired to carry out the campaign work that was paid to the consultant. It also highlights a police report on the metadata of 304 videos, 709 images and 69 documents that concludes that most were created and modified in the campaign, by Neurona workers and in time zones on the American continent. The prosecutor lists, in turn, statements by Podemos employees who stated that the Mexican company "transferred workers to Spain to provide service", which she also considers accredited in parallel by the investigations into their arrivals by plane and the places where they stayed. . And furthermore, based on another police report on KG's Telegram chats,The Public Ministry affirms that this employee was designated by the training for daily intermediation with Neurona and that she maintained "fluid communication" with said company.
The nonexistent box b.
After the investigation was opened, Podemos denounced that it was being equated with the corrupt practices of the PP that justice considers proven. Calvente narrated to the judge the alleged diversion of money from the party's solidarity fund, a fund to which the charges donate part of their salary for social purposes and which the right wing classified as fund b; assured that bonuses were paid to the manager and the treasurer; and affirmed that the costs of the work of the new headquarters were inflated. Above all this, different lines of investigation were opened and, after carrying out numerous inquiries, the judge ended up filing everything because he did not find any type of evidence of a crime. A conclusion that the Prosecutor's Office had already advanced from the beginning.
"Distraction of the money destined for the execution of the rehabilitation works" has not been proven, Escalonilla ended up concluding on the reform of the new headquarters in January 2021, just a month before the PP sat on the bench of the Hearing Nacional for paying with black money from its box b for the works of Genoa 13, as the court considered proven last October.
The magistrate also shelved three other lines of investigation: on the contract signed with the consulting firm ABD Europa for the April 2019 elections;
about the alleged diversion of the funds that the party allocated to the Impulsa project, through which it helped social groups;
and about the alleged access of the dome without permission to the hard drive of an employee.
There was nothing.
The party will request the closure of the case after a year and a half
Podemos will ask magistrate Juan José Escalonilla not to extend the instruction period after a year and a half, according to party sources. The training maintains that the law allows the judge to terminate the investigation and wait to practice and receive the inquiries that have already been approved —such as the expert opinion on the work of Neurona and the rogatory commission that the Madrid Court has ordered to send to Mexico to question two employees of the consultancy. All this, before deciding whether to file the case or prosecute someone. For example, in this situation is currently the open investigation in the National Court on the payment of bribes to the box b of the PP by businessmen in exchange for public works awards:Judge Santiago Pedraz decided to close these investigations last July despite the fact that reports from the Treasury have yet to arrive. In this sense, if we want to go ahead, Podemos sources defend that the judge should specify what investigations are missing to justify the extension of the term.