We had heard rumours of a number of people in Bigastro being paid by the council in return for votes. It seems that there could well be some truth in these stories.
When the PP/UNPLC took office in June 2011, they uncovered information about 48 people who had been on the town’s payroll without contracts for work with the council over a period of nine years.
It is alleged that José Joaquín Moya, who was in power as mayor for 28 years, created a network of of payments of Social Security for selected families in the town which allowed them access to benefits and eventually a pension. The practice had been going on for years and was continued by Moya’s successor when the former mayor was arrested and subsequently resigned. Raul Valerio Medina, who succeeded Moya, was in charge of finance between June 2007 and November 2008. When he took over as mayor, Medina apparently continued to pay 17 false workers and added a further 13 to the list.
Some of these people were paid for short periods, others benefitted from the payments for up to six years. It is said that many were friends or family of the council members.
The matter was placed in the hands of the Anticorruption Prosecutor in April and was taken up by the courts in Orihuela this August. Those who were responsible, along with the political officials who orchestrated or overlooked these fraudulent practices, could be charged with forgery of public documents, trespass, misappropriation of public funds and fraud.