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ERE CASE

Court orders Judge Alaya to drop part of layoff fund inquiry

Panel of magistrates believes alleged union fraud is not related to ERE case

Judge Mercedes Alaya arrives on Friday at the courthouse.
Judge Mercedes Alaya arrives on Friday at the courthouse.Julián Rojas

The Seville judge investigating alleged fraud committed via a public layoff fund set up by Andalusia’s Socialist government was ordered by a higher court to drop part of that probe, SER radio network reported on Friday.

Specifically, Judge Mercedes Alaya will have to stop investigating the alleged fraud by some UGT union members who collected money from the regional government for learning courses they took. An Andalusia provincial court ruled that the reported scheme was already being investigated by another court before Alaya took up the inquiry.

The court also ruled that the UGT fraud allegations have no connection with the irregularities surrounding the layoff fund, known as the ERE case, that Alaya is investigating.

The order was handed down on Wednesday but news of it was broadcast by SER on Friday.

According to judicial sources, prosecutors brought up their concerns to the provincial court about the direction the investigations were taking in order to protect the integrity of the ongoing inquiry and not to jeopardize the work so far accomplished.

During the course of her more than two-year inquiry into purported fraud in the public layoff fund, Alaya has opened several splinter probes, including the UGT’s financial links with the Socialist regional government over the past years. The allegations forced the resignation of UGT secretary general Francisco Fernández Sevilla last January.

Nevertheless, sources consulted by SER believe that the UGT inquiry won’t be dropped completely but instead given to other courts in the region to carry out the investigation.

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