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The roads of the 'king of the buses' are steep in Galicia with another judicial front for the adjudications of the Xunta

2023-03-31T08:55:48.604Z


The dominance of the owner of Monbus, Raúl López, who put Feijóo under the magnifying glass years ago for the gifts he gave him, splashes back to PP charges. It is the largest coach company with Spanish capital


Eight years ago now, for 72 hours, the bus magnate Raúl López knew what it was like to sleep in the cells of the Civil Guard.

After months of wiretapping, on the eve of Father's Day 2015, Judge Pilar de Lara started the engine of the

Cóndor case

.

There were 27 records.

They were days of vertigo and sleepless nights.

In the Court of Instruction 1 of Lugo there was always light.

When the businessman was released after declaring, on bail of 20,000 euros, he told the press: "I am totally calm."

It is the same phrase that López uses every time he is asked about the case, which is still ongoing, or about any other setback in Monbus's unstoppable race to conquer the market.

The same phrase that Alberto Núñez Feijóo also said when asked about the lots from Vega Sicilia that his mother and other relatives picked up in their apartment in Vigo, sent by the bus company for years.

The current president of the PP also predicted that those suspicions of bribery were going to come to "nothing."

And they came to nothing:

However, the paths of the 73-year-old Galician businessman, far from smoothing out, are once again uphill.

As in the song, the Condor passed, although not quite yet.

The original part of the investigations —for money laundering, false accounting and fraud against the public treasury— has not yet reached its last station.

As reported by the Superior Court of Xustiza in Galicia, this operation named after the largest bird of prey on the planet "is in the process of abbreviated procedure, still pending the resolution of the appeal" of the owner of Monbus.

Meanwhile, the highest court in Galicia has handed down a couple of sentences in recent months against their interests and those of the Galician Administration.

One of them has forced the Xunta to deliver to the Galibus association,

that brings together companies in the sector that consider themselves victims of López's undeniable dominance in public tenders, "the list of vehicles and disciplinary proceedings for all regular line contracts."

The other ruling, known last week, orders a body attached to the regional administration to investigate whether Monbus and another of the large firms that operate in Spain, Alsa, with British capital, reached a "concert to obtain a dominant position, if not exclusive, of Galician public transport" in the tender for important concessions in the most populated areas.

Fernando García, spokesman for Galibus, says that this group made up of "15 Galician companies" has filed various lawsuits against a dozen senior officials and officials from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Mobility and from February "in criminal courts in Vigo and Santiago". that of Education.

Some of their complaints for prevarication have already been admitted for processing, and all of them focus on the adjudication and inspection processes of regular and school lines for three years, in which Monbus and the companies that appeared with it in UTE (Union Temporal de Empresas) came out as big winners.

Since the Xunta has been forced, by ruling, to provide the documentation to Galibus,

the association turns to a job of "reviewing license plates" and García assures that Monbus won the tenders for the lots "repeating vehicles in the four provinces".

"So much so, that the license plate of the bus from the accident [in which seven people died on Christmas Eve, on the Lugo-Vigo line] appears in 15 batches," says the businessman, head of the Melytour company.

From the day after the tragedy until now, Monbus has always ensured that the bus had passed "all controls and inspections".

bus strike

"We are with the count at the moment... For now it appears that Monbus is missing 544 buses" according to the specifications, explains García, who maintains that many of those that circulate are "obsolete" and "do not comply with schedules” or “environmental requirements”.

This "overexploitation" of vehicles and personnel, he warns, is "behind the protests of users and also the strike" of drivers called for this Friday the 31st by the unions, who denounce precariousness and "conditions of the last century".

But Monbus denies everything.

Consulted by this newspaper, the group breaks its silence about Galibus: "It is obvious that it was set up with the sole objective of attacking us and putting pressure on the Administration."

The company from Lugo points out that "the firms that make up the association unsuccessfully participated in various tenders, a common practice in public sector contracts and which, surprisingly, they decided to question."

"Monbus never breached the rules of the contests, no matter how much the companies that are members of Galibus did not like the result of the awards", emphasize the legal services of the Raúl López group: "The entity, more than a company, an association" , they conclude, “does not seek justice at all,

But the High Court of Galicia has put a stop sign on the road: it forces the Galician Competition Commission to investigate whether Monbus and Alsa reached a "concert to obtain a dominant, if not exclusive, position of Galician public transport" in one of the outline contests.

Competition, which is defined as an "independent collegiate body" attached to the Xunta, and is chaired by the veteran of the PP Ignacio López-Chaves, had ignored in 2021 the complaints presented by the aspiring companies that were left in the ditch in the race for these you hire.

López-Chaves is a party man who has held public office since the beginning of the century.

The TSXG reproaches the governing body for archiving the proceedings without initiating disciplinary proceedings or "verifying the denounced facts,

According to the ruling of the Superior, which Monbus will appeal in cassation, Competition must investigate whether the joint venture alliance between the two powerful companies to bid for five batches of lines together (and the rest separately and without coinciding on any) was an "anti-competitive" practice ”, to “distort free competition”.

López's company defends itself: it says that it "always acts with absolute rigor and integrity within the framework of current legislation" and warns that it has "very solid arguments" to mount its appeal against the Superior's decision.

The businessman from Sarria (Lugo) Raúl López. PEDRO AGRELO

After the last sentence of the TSXG, the spokesman for Mobility of the Galician Nationalist Bloc, Paulo Ríos, made the adviser on the matter in the Xunta, Ethel Vázquez, “most responsible for the awards and breaches in public transport contracts”.

For its part, the CIG union recalled that "it has filed a complaint" with the Xunta "for the dominant position of Monbus in the Galician market, because it is present in 75% of the joint ventures awarded in the mobility contracts [regular lines] and in 50% of the Education contracts”.

The union also points out that the business group run by López since 1977 —when he took over from his father, who started in Sarria (Lugo) in the middle of the Civil War with a truck that he bought for 500 pesetas— has also become

with the award of the management of "all stations" intermodal and buses that have been put out to tender "in the last two years".

Through other divisions such as

vehicle

leasing , the brand has more contracts with the Xunta: in the Servizo Galego de Saúde (Sergas), the Welfare Consortium or the Xuventude Secretariat, lists the CIG.

According to the data provided by Monbus last year in an interview given to the Prensa Ibérica group by Raúl López, this group that brings together dozens of companies, some as important as the Catalan Hispano-Igualadina, the Galician Castromil, Eurolines or Alcalabús, expected to invoice in 2022 about 180 million, and has 2,200 employees, 1,350 buses and 2,470 passenger cars in

renting

.

Monbus manages stations such as Vigo or Barcelona Sants, is in charge of the shuttle connection between Barcelona and El Prat (Aerobús) and has been awarded the AENA contract to move passengers between the Barajas airport terminals.

It is established in Galicia, Madrid, Catalonia, the Valencian Community, Andalusia and Murcia and crosses Portugal in a corridor between Galicia and Algeciras.


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Source: elparis

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