Ex-Andalusia comptroller claims outgoing premier knew of ERE fund report

The fund was a “very singular budgetary disease,” defendant testifies

The former comptroller of the Andalusia government testified on Thursday that the entire hierarchy of the ruling Socialist Party in the region was aware of the financial irregularities arising from the so-called ERE case, in which up to 140 million euros belonging to a fund set up to aid struggling companies to lay off workers is alleged to have been misused between 2001 and 2010.

Manuel Gómez, who presided over the region’s finances, said that former regional premier Manuel Chaves and his councilors must have been aware of his reports due to budgetary discrepancies in the fund, which sometimes exceeded 90 million euros in a year in subsidies. The fund, he stated, was a “very singular budgetary disease.”

Regional premier José Antonio Griñán announced Wednesday he would step down after the summer break for “personal and family reasons,” although observers believe he could be next in the firing line of Judge Mercedes Alaya, who has indicted 20 former and serving regional officials so far in the case.

Griñán has consistently denied knowledge of Gómez’s reports, but the latter told Ayala that “it is absolutely inconceivable” that he was not aware of their general conclusions due to the black hole in Andalusia’s coffers, which seriously affected budgetary planning for the entire region. Griñán was finance chief of the region under Chaves between 2004 and 2009.

Gómez, who is accused of embezzlement and corruption, said that Griñán could have shut down the fund at any time.

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