Local governments helped royal consort seal public contracts

Authorities cite sponsorship haul at 16 million euros

The ongoing investigation into the activities of Iñaki Urdangarin, a son-in-law to King Juan Carlos, through his non-profit Nóos Institute has revealed the involvement of the administrations of Valencia and the Balearic Islands, then led by Popular Party premiers Jaume Matas and Francisco Camps, respectively.

Nóos is suspected of raking in some 6 million euros through public contracts sealed by Matas and Camps - who are both the focus of ongoing corruption investigations - for sports and tourism-related events between 2003 and 2007, according to tax authorities. Anti-corruption prosecutors calculate that on occasion, Nóos invoiced 170 percent of the cost of its services.

Various high-ranking politicians acted as go-betweens for Nóos in Mallorca and Valencia, setting up contacts with sponsors and businesses. In the cases already uncovered, Urdangarin and his partner, Diego Torres, laid out their budget for events and private sponsors at collective meetings, and then closed individual deals through personal visits.

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A witness in the case - the president of a social entity who did not wish to be named - tells how he was called to a business meeting through political channels. "On arrival at a museum in Valencia there was Urdangarin with the cream of business leaders," he says. "He explained the project and the next day he came to see me to convince me." A 58,000-euro bill for analysis and sponsorship swiftly followed.

Local lender Sa Nostra, which was summoned by "the presidency of the Balearic Islands," promised 58,000 euros for each forum organized by Nóos in 2005 and 2006, at a public cost of 2.3 million euros. Meliá Hotels stumped up 105,000 euros in sponsorship and the shoe company Lottuse 110,000.

In all, Nóos reaped some 16 million in sponsorship and promotion between 2003 and 2007, authorities believe.

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