Payments of 5.9m euros to Julio Iglesias were hidden by ex-Valencia premier

Singer picked up fees paid with public money in exchange for promoting tourism in Valencia

Madrid -

Former Valencia regional premier Eduardo Zaplana said Tuesday that he was “very satisfied” and “proud” over his “great decision” to hire Spanish crooner Julio Iglesias using public money from the region’s export institute (Ivex) in 1997. The Popular Party official added that he has never had any legal problems over this decision.

Iglesias was reportedly paid 990 million pesetas (5.95 million euros) in December 1997 — 3.7 million euros more than the amount Zaplana said he paid the singer — for two concerts with money coming from Ivex to promote tourism for the region.

The 69-year-old singer, whose songs Hey! and Begin the Beguine became international hits in the 1980s, offered a sworn statement on May 29 to a judge in the Dominican Republic, who is cooperating with a Valencia court that is conducting a public corruption investigation into Ivex. Iglesias told Judge Yohan Carlos Morales, of the Dominican city of Higüey, that he signed two contracts to become cultural ambassador for the region.

A judicial commission traveled to the Dominican Republic to take the sworn statement from Iglesias, who lives in the Punta Cana resort and has dual nationality. The sworn statement was published in newspapers in the Caribbean nation.

However, Zaplana has always insisted there was only one contract.

“I still have all the papers and documents from the time this entire case broke open,” Zaplana told reporters during the region’s national celebration day on Tuesday.

The judge carrying out the Ivex inquiry has already charged five people with falsifying documents and embezzlement. Former director José María Tabares fled the country after he was convicted in another fraud case related to the embezzlement of Ivex funds. He has also been ordered to pay 1.875 million euros in restitution. His whereabouts are still unknown.

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