Spanish courts seize $130 million from three Iberdrola executives
June 21, 2022 - CE Noticias Financieras
The Spanish multinational's network of financial crimes involves businessmen, politicians and officials. In the image, the company's combined cycle power plant in El Carmen, Mexico.Photo Europa Press Armando G. TejedaCorrespondent Periódico La Jornada
Tuesday, June 21, 2022, p. 19Madrid
. Just three days after Iberdrola held its annual shareholders' meeting, in which the top management was ratified with Ignacio Sánchez Galán at the helm despite his numerous criminal charges, the judge of Castilla y León, Javier del Blas, resolved two issues affecting the energy multinational: he confirmed a fine of 11 million 250 thousand euros and ratified the seizure of assets totaling 130 million euros against three of its executives.
The case aims to prove a political-business corruption scheme in which several concessions for the construction of wind farms were allegedly granted, involving bribes, influence peddling and prevarication.
Iberdrola has at least five major legal proceedings open against it in Spain. The most serious is the one in which Sánchez Galán himself is accused and which refers to the hiring of a former police commissioner to spy on and coerce businessmen and executives of competing companies, as well as politicians, journalists and even environmental leaders critical of the mega-projects of the energy company, which is headquartered in Bilbao.
But there are also several cases of less public impact, but which investigate serious crimes, such as the manipulation of electricity prices through the intentional draining of reservoirs, the illegal expropriation of a land of more than 510 hectares to install there the largest photovoltaic plant in Europe, for which, according to a local council, it did not even have a license.
There is also the case taken on by Judge Del Blas, of the courts of Castilla y León, for which he has relied on several reports from the Public Prosecutor's Office and the anti-corruption departments of the Civil Guard. The case under investigation is the irregular granting of authorizations to build wind farms in the region, in a period ranging from 2003 to 2011. That is to say, eight years during which Iberdrola would have skirted the law to obtain public concessions and thus expand its investments and energy projects in the area.
Del Blas, who is the head of court number four of Valladolid, recently dismissed an appeal filed by Iberdrola executives requesting the annulment of the order of seizure of assets for 130 million euros. This measure affects Pedro Barriuso, who was the head of Iberdrola's renewables division, Rafael Icaza de la Sota, director of control, and Ricardo Bravo, an executive of Ibercyl, Iberdrola's subsidiary in Castilla y León.
The case, which is much broader as it affects several political leaders, businessmen and civil servants, would mean, if the hypothesis of the Prosecutor's Office is confirmed, that in those eight years up to 80 million euros would have been paid in bribes to obtain the concessions. In total, five high-ranking officials of the regional government and 11 businessmen are being investigated, among them the three Iberdrola executives, who have been identified as the main instigators of the scheme.
Iberdrola remains silent on the case, in fact it has not pronounced itself on the request for economic aid from one of the accused, Icaza, who still works in the company, to cover the funds demanded by the justice system. The only thing that does appear in its official reports is that in its annual report it already contemplates paying the economic sanction imposed by the magistrate of 11.25 million euros.