Trade unionists Salvador Vera and Roberto Carmona on their release in the early hours of Friday morning in Seville. EFE
In a new phase of the Andalucía ERE case the judge has carried a series of new arrests, two of them in the province of Malaga.
Operation Heracles is a branch of the ongoing investigation that focuses on fraudulent mass redundancy applications (EREs), as well as over-inflated commissions paid to intermediaries in the early retirement packages subsidised by the Junta de Andalucía.
The operation began with Guardia Civil raids in Malaga, Cordoba, Cadiz, Jaén and Seville on Tuesday morning. One man was detained in Segovia, while searches were also carried out in Barcelona, Madrid and Huelva.
One of the suspects arrested on the Costa del Sol is Ángel Quesada del Valle, the director of the Sol Don Hoteles complex, formed by Don Pedro, Don Pablo and Don Marco in Torremolinos.
Meanwhile in Benalmádena a former bank manager in Cazalla de la Sierra, Gerardo de la Cruz, was also detained. Sources revealed that one of the two is suspected of money laundering. Both were taken to Seville for questioning.
All of the men arrested have been released with charges.
This phase of the operation examines the role of the trade unions in the processing and granting of subsidies to help struggling companies pay redundancy and early retirement packages. Also under scrutiny are the firms that may have fraudulently obtained public funds and the bank workers who allegedly helped launder the money.
The suspects arrested include the secretary general of the trade union UGT in Cadiz, Salvador Mera, and three leaders of the CC.OO union (two in Cordoba and one in Seville). A former provincial director of IFA, the firm that paid the ERE hand-outs, and now a PSOE official at the Diputación of Seville, Enrique Rodríguez, is also among those detained.
A former bank manager in Jaén was also detained on Wednesday.
Don Pedro ERE
Ten searches were carried out, one of them in an office of the Don Pedro hotel in Torremolinos. The judge believes that the hotel group paid 389,277 euros to a close associate of Juan Lanzas, the former trade unionist known by the judge as the ‘conseguidor’, the man who obtained the funds for the firms.
In 2004 the Hotel Don Pablo applied for an ERE (‘expediente de regulación de empleo’) which affected more than 50 members of the 250-strong staff. They were given early retirement through the scheme.
The news of Ángel Quesada’s arrest has raised concerns among the hotel industry on the Costa del Sol.
Fellow hoteliers expressed their surprise and insisted on calling for caution. Quesada is a highly regarded director on the Costa del Sol and is one of six vice presidents of the hoteliers’ association Aehcos.