Three judges and six court clerks were paid a combined €27,000 in 2014 as bonuses for attending four meetings at Madrid’s regional High Court.
The money was paid for their involvement in “reviewing and validating” the progress of an overhaul of the IT systems at regional courthouses.
The technological upgrade began in 2011 with the aim of reducing wait times and streamlining legal procedures in the Madrid region.
On Monday, EL PAÍS revealed that the Madrid regional government has been paying judges, prosecutors and court clerks for advisory work on the project through global technology company Indra. A total of 32 jurists have received a total of €200,000 since 2011.
Spain’s legal watchdog, the CGPJ, has since announced an investigation into the case.
A reduced group of nine jurists, including Francisco José Vieira, head of the Madrid regional High Court, earned €3,000 each in 2013 and again in 2014, adding up to a combined €54,000 over the two years.
Francisco José Vieira released a statement on Monday defending the legality of the payments, which jurists demanded in exchange for their consulting work according to regional government sources.
The Iusmadrid upgrade project began in late 2011 with a budget of €6 million after tech company Indra won the regional government tender. This firm has made the payments to advisors.
Spain’s legal watchdog, the CGPJ, is investigating the case
Regional government sources said it was Vieira who, in representation of Madrid’s judges and court clerks, demanded extra payment for their advisory work, and noted that without their cooperation the project could not be adequately completed.
While Indra is responsible for paying the consulting fees, the payment orders came from the Madrid Justice Board, via a public affiliate known as the Madrid Regional IT and Communication Agency (ICM). Contractual relations between the ICM and Indra are being investigated by the High Court as part of Operation Púnica, a scandal in which Madrid regional politicians are suspected of taking part in a bid-rigging scheme. Evidence has already been uncovered suggesting that false invoices were submitted from the regional government via Indra.