Head of Unilever Spain arrested in sprawling data theft case

Jaime Aguilera detained along with other businessmen, detectives and law-enforcement officers

The chairman of Unilever’s Spanish division, Jaime Aguilera Carmona, was one of a group of over 20 people arrested or formally named as suspects in the so-called "Pitiusa" operation to dismantle a ring that was trafficking in data, sources involved in the investigation said Wednesday.

Among those also detained was Eduard Garriga, executive director for management and strategy at Barcelona Activa, the local development agency of Barcelona City Hall and former general manager of insurer Mutua Universal.

The police also arrested members of the National Police, civil guards and employees of the Tax Agency.

The raids on Wednesday comprised the third phase of the Operation Pitiusa probe, which last year unearthed a ring of around 150 people who had been buying and selling personal documents, such as income tax statements, printouts of account transfers, medical records and lists of telephone numbers.

The ring worked closely with detective agencies, and one of the people arrested on Wednesday was a private investigator, Jorge Luis Colomar, the son of a famous detective who solved a murder case years back.

One of the detective agencies involved, Método 3, had compiled sensitive information on businessmen, judges, prosecutors and politicians.

The arrests started earlier Wednesday morning. The list of those to be detained contained the names of around 30 people, including 19 in Catalonia, five in Madrid, two in Cantabria, one in Aragon, two in the Basque Country and two in Andalusia. At press time 18 of the arrests had been made.

One of the key players in the ring is Argentinean-born hacker Matías Bevilacqua, who had previously collaborated with the National Intelligence Center (CNI), Spain’s equivalent of the CIA.

The Nóos connection

Some of the victims of the ring include Telma Ortiz, the sister of Princess Letizia, whose employment record was sold to a private detective. Another victim was Ignacio López Hierro, the husband of the secretary general of the ruling Popular Party, María Dolores de Cospedal.

An examination of computers seized in previous raids showed a connection between Pitiusa — the Spanish word for the inhabitants of Ibiza and Formentera — and the Nóos investigation in which royal son-in-law Iñaki Urdangarin and his wife Princess Cristina have been implicated. Urdangarin’s lawyer, Mario Pascual Vives, had asked Bevilacqua for all of the email messages involved in the case.

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