The Spanish mayor who wasted no time feathering his nest

Andreu Martí accumulated €2.3 million in bribes in Catalan town of l’Ametlla de Mar during 12-year tenure

Andreu Martí after getting arrested.
Andreu Martí after getting arrested.JAUME SELLART (EFE)

The mayor of a small town in Catalonia accumulated more than €2 million during his tenure between 2003 and 2015 from bribes, according to an investigation by anti-corruption prosecutors.

In April 2003, more than a month before running for election on behalf of the center-right Convergència party in l’Ametlla de Mar, in Tarragona province, Andreu Martí allegedly opened a bank account at the Andorra-based Andbank, the first of five in which he would eventually stash a total of €2.3 million before he was arrested in July 2016. He is accused of funneling money out of Spain to shell companies based in Panama. Currently out on bail of €600,000, he faces charges of money laundering, embezzlement, criminal association, and perverting the course of justice.

Martí took office on June 14, 2003. Investigators have learned from the Andorran authorities that eight months later, €117,500 was paid into an account opened by the mayor in the Banca Privada de Andorra. Over the next 16 months, the same account would be used to deposit a total of €352,527.

He faces charges of money laundering, embezzlement, criminal association, and perverting the course of justice

The money was transferred from the account of a company based in Panama called Hardfin Investment Corporation, run by Daniel Mestre (who died in 2015) and his son, Oriol Mestres, also arrested and who is known to the authorities for his money laundering activities. He was arrested in 2012 for his involvement in Operation Emperador, accused of laundering €5 million on behalf of Chinese businessman Gao Ping.

In July 2005, Martí set up a company called Hubble International in Panama, used to funnel money transferred from Spain. The investigation shows that Martí used the same fronts and law firms in Panama as Mestre.

The investigation shows that in 2008, Martí paid €260,000 for a property. In 2012, he bought a second property, taking out a mortgage of €180,000.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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