Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Orange Market affair

I've been trying to follow this story in the local Spanish press but it is quite complicated. The Costa Blanca News makes a bit more sense of it.

A major corruption investigation has been  launched by judge Baltasar Garzón into links between the Partido Popular in Valencia and two promotional companies, Special Events and Orange Market. La Nucía mayor Bernabé Cano may also be caught up in the controversy.

Sr Garzón ordered raids on the offices of the two companies run by Álvaro Pérez and Francisco Correa, both of whom are alleged to have used their strong connections with high-ranking members of the PP in Valencia and Madrid to gain lucrative contracts to stage a number of special events.

On Monday evening Álvaro Pérez was arrested in Valencia and taken to Madrid where Judge Garzón took a statement from him then ordered his detention. It is claimed that Orange Market pocketed at least five million euros in fees for organising events for the regional government.

Orange Market began operating in Valencia at the same time Francisco Camps took over as regional president and that it also made 450,000 euros for staging the opening ceremony of the Volvo Ocean Race in Alicante and an undisclosed sum for organising the PP regional congress last November.

Other reports claim the regional tourism council awarded the contract to design and mount the Costa Blanca stand at the recent Fitur tourism fair held in Madrid to Orange Market, despite its fee for the contract being higher than any other.

Other allegations claim that in 2004, the other company involved in the case, Special Events, was paid 13,500 euros to prepare a protest meeting for a foundation called Agua y Progreso, a group lobbying for the building of a canal to bring water from the river Ebro.

PP chiefs in Alicante also paid Orange Market 12,000 euros to arrange the opening ceremony of former mayor Luis Díaz Alperi’s election campaign in 2007.

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