“Koldo Case”: One month after the scandal there is still no political responsibility

Today is fulfilled a month since Spain learned of the plot of the “Koldo case”also called «Operation Delorme», the most serious case of corruption that the Government of Pedro Sánchez has faced so far. It is a network of personal and corporate connections that took advantage of the exceptional situation generated during the pandemic to win nine contracts for an amount of 53 million euros. Although during this time details have been known about the political ties of the main leaders, the contacts they maintained with active positions, the special treatment that some of them enjoyed in the Ministry of Transport, where they obtained the first contracts, there are also numerous opaque points that Judge Ismael Moreno, who is investigating the case in the National Court (AN), will have to clarify. Among the questions pending resolution is the degree of political connection of its main members.

The investigation was born from a complaint filed by the Popular Group of the Madrid Assembly and the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office took the reins with the support of the Central Operational Unit (UCO) of the Civil Guard. In the central piece, seven people are investigated for crimes of money laundering, criminal organization, bribery, tax crime and influence peddling. Those investigated are Koldo García,the former advisor of José Luis Ábalos, Sánchez's strong man who was in charge of Transportation when two public companies dependent on this portfolio, Puertos del Estado and Adif, awarded contracts for almost 37 million euros in less than seven days to acquire masks. Also being investigated are the businessmen Víctor de Aldama, Juan Carlos Cueto Martín – alleged business mastermind and owner of the companies through which the profits have been circulating –, Íñigo Rotaeche and the second lieutenant of the Civil Guard José Luis Rodríguez García. The judge has charged Koldo's family network: Patricia Uriz, his partner, and Joseba García, his brother. But throughout this month there have been other arrests, such as that of Commander Rubén Villalba, who would be in charge of ensuring the interests of the businessman Aldama, by providing the network with a safe means of communication and who would charge about 2,000 euros per month.

In addition to those directly responsible, the political connections remain to be elucidated. At the moment, the judge has not charged any of the public officials that he contracted with the company in the plot at that time, Management and Support Solutions for Companies SL. She was chosen despite having no experience in public procurement. And her activity had no relation to the health sector. Despite this, Puertos del Estado awarded it a first contract for 24 million euros to buy eight million masks. Then came the contracts with Adif; with the Ministry of the Interior; another with the Health Service of the Balearic Islands in the stage of Francina Armengol; four contracts with the Canary Islands Health Service with Angel Victor Torres as regional president; and one with the Ministry of Health during the Salvador Illa era. There were nine contracts.

At first, all eyes fell on Ábalos. His party, the PSOE, gave him an ultimatum: he had to leave his seat within 24 hours. But the former Minister of Transport did not give in and he gave a twist to the story by keeping his record and moving to the Mixed Group. Until now There has only been one departure from the Executive, that of the Secretary General of State Ports, Álvaro Sánchez Manzanares, whom the current Minister of Transport, Óscar Puente, dismissed due to loss of confidence. However, police reports have revealed other active charges who continued to meet with Koldo until a few months ago. Puente said that his hand would not shake and that there could be more exits, but there have been no more movements in his portfolio or in others. AND Villalba, the second civil guard involved, was dismissed from his post in Venezuela. There may be more detainees, but political responsibilities have not been refined.