Gürtel corruption web traps ex-PP minister Cascos

Police say ring paid kickbacks to airport authority workers on Asturian leader's watch

The ongoing investigation into the Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts corruption case has affected several regional Popular Party (PP) figures, such as Francisco Camps who resigned as Valencia premier over the case in July, but had not engulfed anyone in central government - until now.

Francisco Álvarez Cascos is today the independent premier of Asturias after breaking from the PP ahead of local elections earlier this year. But 10 years ago he was the public works minister in Prime Minister José María Aznar's government, and was therefore responsible for AENA, Spain's airport authority.

Back in 2000-2002, AENA awarded contracts worth 2.4 million euros to Gürtel ring companies and, according to documents seized from ringleader Francisco Correa's firms, two AENA workers also received commissions in the form of trips, cash and payments for private renovation work to the tune of 85,000 euros.

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Correa had previously admitted his relationship with Cascos and his work with AENA in his declaration before High Court Judge Baltasar Garzón in 2009. "One of the accounts we had then was AENA, because Paco Cascos, with whom I have a certain relationship, gave me the AENA account and it was a very important contract because it did Fitur [the international tourism fair] and they did a load of events," he said. However, since then, no inquiry has been made into the relationship between Gürtel and AENA.

The police report submitted to Madrid Supreme Court magistrate Antonio Pedreira, who is conducting the Gürtel investigation, says that one of the recipients of the commissions, AENA communications director Ángel López de la Mota, participated in preparing the technical specifications applying to the contracting of the Gürtel companies to create the AENA display stands at the Fitur fairs in 2001 and 2002.

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