As the investigation into the Púnica bid-rigging scandal progresses, new details are emerging about the corrupt practices of Francisco Granados, the former Madrid regional government official who is considered the mastermind behind the scheme.
Granados, once an important figure within the Madrid branch of the Popular Party (PP), allegedly filled the local Socialist Party in Valdemoro, where he was mayor between 1999 and 2003, with infiltrators in order to better control it.
Between 2005 and 2006, over half of the 300 members affiliated with local Socialists had ties to the PP or were relatives of either Granados or his business partner and childhood friend David Marjaliza, the other major suspect in the Púnica investigation.
The deception was uncovered by a group of Valdemoro Socialists who were puzzled by the fact that party affiliation shot up dramatically in the months prior to municipal elections.
David Marjaliza, a constructor, was seen at local Socialist headquarters on election night in 2003, and met with local party secretary Antonio Serrano, who has since been targeted in the Púnica case in connection to alleged counts of money laundering, misappropriation of funds, bribery of public officials and forging documents. He is thought to have worked directly for Marjaliza as his administrator and frontman.
“It was very striking. In just one month, you might get 50 new members. Some people tried to pass it off as the Zapatero effect,” recalls one Socialist source, in reference to former Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. “But it was very suspicious that in a town with a population of 19,000 the Socialist group had over 300 members, making it the third largest in the Madrid region.”
A group of veteran party members decided to conduct their own investigation in regional archives that contained the names of past members of the PP and its defunct predecessor, the Alianza Popular. Some names coincided. A search at the Business Registrar’s Office yielded names of recent party members who were working as administrators and board members of Marjaliza’s network of businesses.
The months-long investigation showed that over half of Valdemoro’s Socialists were in fact tied to the PP or to Marjaliza. Regional Socialist authorities decided to expel the individuals even at the risk of losing local elections in 2007 — which were ultimately won by the PP.