Maite Zaldívar arrives in court with her partner. Salvador Salas
This week the Malaga courts have witnessed the latest chapter in the trial in which former mayor of Marbella, Julián Muñoz, is accused of laundering money with the help of his ex-wife, Maite Valdívar, and ex-girlfriend, the singer Isabel Pantoja.
Valdívar has gone back on her initial statements made to the judge on her arrest in 2006 and revelations made on prime time TV, in which she spoke of bin liners full of cash from illegal commissions and money in Swiss bank accounts.
Now she maintains that none of what she said was true and that she had publicly incriminated the former mayor out of “anger” and “revenge”.
“I said it to hurt him, because he had ruined my life personally and financially”, she explained on Monday.
To support her new version of events Zaldívar told the court that when she found out about Muñoz’s affair with Isabel Pantoja she left the family home, taking with her the money that was there. “I wasn’t in any state to count it then, but there was around 50 million pesetas”, she told the court (some 300,000 euros). The mayor’s ex-wife said that at no point did she think that the cash her husband brought home was illegal, but was confident it was the fruit of honest work, albeit undeclared.
She went on to say that she had asked her brother, also accused, for help to invest the money and he took care of everything. During the investigation, a Swiss bank account with some 900,000 euros was discovered.
“I don’t know what money laundering is”, she said, adding that as far as she was concerned, laundering (‘blanquear’ - to whiten - in Spanish) was “painting a wall”.
Maite’s brother, Jesús Zaldívar, also went back on his initial statement made on arrest, when he said that Muñoz had given him a black plastic bag full of bank notes to take from the Town Hall to a bank safety deposit box.
He too said that he made the statements because he was angry with his brother-in-law, adding that he used companies to invest the money to “hide” it from Muñoz and not to hide funds obtained illegally.