ANDALUSIA

Seville judge subpoenas six builders to testify in public land sale investigation

Lower bidder won tender for plot where the Mercasevilla market was due to be built

Judge Mercedes Alaya, who is investigating the layoff fund.
Judge Mercedes Alaya, who is investigating the layoff fund.Julian Rojas (EL PAÍS)

The judge investigating mismanagement in an Andalusian government layoff fund has formally accused six businessmen who bid in a public tender for land made available to build the Mercasevilla market complex. Among the six named in the formal accusation is the late father of Labor Minister Fátima Báñez, who died 12 years ago, but was included by error.

Eduardo Báñez González was a director at the construction firm Juan de Robles, and court sources say that the subpoena should have actually been issued for the minister's brother, Eduardo Báñez García, who is also in the construction business.

The six builders are expected to testify before Seville Judge Mercedes Alaya on Friday to offer their versions about the land bid, which took place in 2006 in the Andalusian capital when it was governed by a Socialist-United Left coalition. The judge believes that the contest was rigged because the builder Sando won the contract despite the fact the best financial offer came from the company Noga. Specifically, Alaya wants to know if the builders had colluded to allow Sando to win even though they presented individual bids knowing what the outcome would be.

While the Noga group offered 158 million euros for the land, Sando won the bid with its lower 106-million-euro offer. "You can deduce there was a possible deal between Mercasevilla and Sando for the latter to win the bidding for the purchase of land," she said in her ruling.

Those subpoenaed are Ignacio Bayón of Realia, José Romero of Prasa, Bárbara Gutiérrez-Maturana of Larios Azucarera, Eugenio Martín-Vicente Sánchez and Antonio Sánchez of Edamar, and Eduardo Báñez Juan of Robles.

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