Anti-corruption prosecutors in Málaga along with the police’s UDEF economic crimes squad are investigating an alleged multi-million-euro fraud scheme involving a job-training course program funded by the Andalusia regional government, UDEF sources said on Tuesday.
The secret investigation is still in its preliminary stages and is yet to be filed with an investigative judge, the sources said.
Although the probe has only focused on Málaga province, based on allegations that people have received government subsidies for courses that were never held, investigators are expected to extend their inquiry to other provinces in the region, according to the news website elconfidencial.com.
Manuel Recio, who served as labor commissioner between 2010 and 2012 under the Socialist government of Manuel Chaves, declined to comment on Tuesday. “I have no news nor do I have information,” he said.
In March, the Popular Party (PP), which is in the opposition in the regional parliament, called for an investigation into allegations of mismanagement at the Andalusia Job Service (SAE), but the petition was blocked by the Socialists and their governing partners in the United Left (IU) coalition.
Although the probe has focused on Málaga, investigators are expected to extend their inquiry to other provinces
Over the past weeks, investigators have taken sworn statements from at least 200 witnesses in Málaga, most of them students who were said to have received training through the SAE. Among the evidence gathered are class rolls containing names of people who never attended the sessions.
According to a report by regional auditors released in February, the Andalusia government handed out subsidies totaling €255.7 million in 2009 and €360.2 million in 2010 for training sessions to be given to unemployed workers. Those classes were never conducted.
This could be the second major public corruption scandal to ensnare the Socialists in Andalusia. Former premier Chaves and his successor, José Antonio Griñán, have been caught up in an ongoing two-year court investigation into an alleged fraud scheme involving a public fund set up to help troubled companies pay severance to laid off workers.
Besides the two former premiers, a Seville judge has named a host of others, including former labor leaders and public officials, as suspects in the so-called ERE case.