Jailed ex-Balearics chief negotiating confession over royal corruption case

Jaume Matas seeks reduction in future convictions in Nóos inquiry and other probes affecting him

Former Balearics premier Jaume Matas wants a reduction on future convictions.
Former Balearics premier Jaume Matas wants a reduction on future convictions.I. B. (EFE)

Former Balearic Islands regional premier Jaume Matas is negotiating a confession from his prison cell in Segovia, where he is serving a nine-month sentence for influence peddling.

His decision comes in the wake of further accusations of wrongdoing from other suspects under investigation. Especially damning has been the testimony from Aina Castillo, a former Balearics department chief and trusted personal aide, who told investigators that Matas ordered her to manipulate the awarding of a hospital contract worth over €630 million.

Once a major figure within the conservative Popular Party (PP), who served as environment minister under former prime minister José María Aznar, Matas fell out of grace in the wake of the Palma Arena scandal, which involved the construction of a sports arena in Palma de Mallorca.

There are over 20 separate, related investigations in the case, and Matas is still under scrutiny in 19 ongoing inquiries into illegal party financing and contract rigging, among other crimes.

Matas faces up to five years over the Iñaki Urdangarin case

This is why the former official wants to cooperate with authorities, in the hope that it will earn him a reduction on potential future convictions. However, a deal with the attorney’s office would not necessarily allow Matas to avoid further jail time altogether.

Matas faces up to five years for his involvement in the Palma Arena case’s most famous offshoot, the Nóos case, which involves Iñaki Urdangarin and his wife Cristina de Borbón, the sister of Spain’s King Felipe VI.

The disgraced politician, who governed the Balearic Islands between 2003 and 2007, had used every means possible to avoid prison over illegal contracts made out to his speech writer, Antonio Alemany, a former reporter for El Mundo who simultaneously wrote glowing stories about his boss for that newspaper.

But despite being a personal friend of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Matas was denied the government pardon he had requested. He reported to the Segovia penitentiary on July 28.

Sources familiar with the investigation say Matas is reluctant to return any money to the state, admit that he accepted commissions, or confess to illegal sources of wealth.

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