Spanish swimming chief faces fraud allegations

Federation president suspected of conning 600,000 euros out of governing body

The image of Spanish swimming has been sinking like a stone since the high point of the London Olympics, where Mireia Belmonte became the first Spaniard to win two Olympic medals in the pool. First came Belmonte’s dispute with her club, CN Sabadell, which saw the 22-year-old left without a training center, placing the presence of Spain’s star swimmer at the Barcelona World Championships early next year in doubt. Neither has Belmonte been named in the team for this year's European Championships in Chartres, which run from November 22 to 25.

Shortly afterward, members of Spain’s synchronized swimming team published a letter accusing their coach, Anna Tarrés, of abusive and demeaning treatment.

Just when it seemed it was safe for Spanish swimming to go back in the water,  it emerged on Wednesday that a Madrid court would investigate the president of the Royal Spanish Swimming Federation, Fernando Carpena, for allegedly defrauding 600,000 euros in subsidies from the Higher Sports Council (CSD) in 2009. Carpena requested the amount to cover training, travel and accommodation expenses at that year’s World Championships, but records show that 95 percent of the money was not spent in Rome and many of the invoices presented to CSD were generated after the tournament. Furthermore, the International Swimming Federation picks up most of the expenses of competing teams at world championships.

It is thought some of the money was used to cover the redundancy payments of Jesús González, Carpena’s predecessor at the helm of the RFEN and the author of the police complaint, and RFEN technical director Maurizio Coconi, both of whom were surplus to the incoming president’s requirements.

Also being investigated is former director of high performance at the CSD, Ángel Luis López de la Fuente, who is alleged to have smoothed the awarding of the subsidies and connived with Carpena to present the correlating invoices past the deadline for doing so.

If found guilty of subsidy fraud, Carpena could face up to four years in prison.

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