Lottery-winning mayor said to conceal assets sought by court

Popular Party leader in Manises defies council vote to force him out

The Socialists in Valencia have filed a complaint against the mayor of Manises for alleged concealment of assets through lottery tickets.

Mayor Enrique Crespo of the Popular Party on Tuesday refused to resign after the PP-majority town council voted against a motion demanding that he step down.

Crespo, who was president of the public company Emarsa and under indictment for allegedly diverting money from the firm, was reportedly a winner of the second prize of the annual El Gordo Christmas lottery. The PP in Manises bought 796 décimos, or tickets, corresponding to the winning number 53404, which was awarded close to 100 million euros.

With the television cameras and reporters gathered in Manises after the second prize was announced, Crespo left the town hall accompanied by Alfonso Rus, the Valencia provincial administrator. Rus showed reporters at least five décimos he had, whose prize sum would have been 625,000 euros.

"How many décimos did Crespo have?" reporters asked him. "A lot," Rus responded.

The mayor has become a focus of attention following his indictment last October for charges related to the embezzlement of Emarsa, a public company that was in charge of recycling waste water in the Valencia area and was closed down after an investigation showed that 17 million euros were missing from the company's coffers. Crespo is among 40 people who have so far been indicted in the case.

During a heated council session on Tuesday, spectators began shouting and holding placards demanding that Crespo step down.

The mayor said he wasn't going to comment on the case because it was still under investigation.

Judge Vicente Rios, who indicted Crespo, ordered the mayor to show whether he had any décimos and how many. The judge had already ordered investigators to determine the amount of Crespo's assets.

"We want an investigation to determine if the mayor of Manises gave away winning décimos to his family or friends so he won't have to report the money [he won] in the embezzlement case in which he has been indicted and could be convicted," said Ramón Marí, the Socialist spokesman at Metropolitan Hydraulic Services Entity, the holding company that ran Emarsa.