The judge in charge of the investigation into an alleged multimillion-euro fraud relating to a job severance payment fund set up by the Andalusian government on Tuesday named Magdalena Álvarez, the vice president of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and former public works minister, as an official target in the case.
Judge Mercedes Alaya ruled that Álvarez, who served under the Socialist regional and national governments, could face charges of breaching her official duty and misappropriating public funds. Alaya argued that Álvarez, who was minister in the government of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, had been a key player in the setting up of the labor-force adjustment (ERE) fund by the Andalusian government from which an estimated 140 million euros was siphoned off between 2001 and 2010.
In her appearance before the judge on Tuesday, Álvarez said the transfer of public money to the layoff fund was within the law. She had served as economy commissioner for Andalusia from 1994 to 2004, during which time the severance payment fund was set up.
Speaking to reporters afterward, Álvarez said her work had been “transparent and clear” during her tenure. She added that she was satisfied that she had been able to appear before Alaya to “clear up a lot of doubts” despite being named as an official suspect in the case.
Earlier in the day, Civil Guard officers arrested 12 more suspects in the case, including the head of the Cádiz branch of the UGT labor union.