Jailed businessman denies conniving with Valencia PP official to siphon aid

Augusto César Tauroni tells court he offered to help an NGO "to make money" as embezzlement trial continues

An alleged ringleader of a scheme prosecutors believe was designed to siphon off international aid funds from the Valencia government denied Friday that he had any relationship with a former Popular Party (PP) regional parliament spokesman who headed up the department that managed the money.

Businessman Augusto César Tauroni, who is in protective custody, said that he offered to help the NGO Cyes Foundation, which received government funding, in an effort "to make money."

"I never gave Mr [Rafael] Blasco any money," he testified before the Valencia regional high court about the former PP official who is on trial. "Send bills and collect money, that is all I intended to do."

During his testimony on Thursday, Blasco denied a business relationship with Tauroni, who is the only person to have been placed in preventive custody as a result of the investigation.

The anticorruption prosecutor said he considered Blasco, who also served as the regional government's Solidarity and Citizenry department chief between 2007 and 2011, of being the "director" of the scheme to funnel funds destined for developing countries from the Valencia administration coffers.

The case is divided into two parts, with the current trial focused on the disappearance of money earmarked for a foundation carrying out relief projects in Nicaragua. Of 1.8 million euros assigned by Blasco's department, only 43,000 eventually reached the Central American nation. The remainder was used to buy up property and parking spaces in Valencia.


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