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Former mayor of Casares sentenced to eight and a half years in Majestic case

Juan Sánchez on his release on bail in 2012.
Juan Sánchez on his release on bail in 2012. / SUR
  • Juan Sánchez has been found guilty of accepting bribes for planning favours

The Malaga provincial court has sentenced the ex-mayor of Casares, Juan Sánchez, to eight and a half years in prison for several criminal offences all related to corrupt practice while he was at the helm of the town hall. Sánchez, who was also president of the Western Costa del Sol’s Mancomunidad de Municipios, has been found guilty of embezzlement, contracting fraud, corrupt practice, accepting bribes and money-laundering.

The case, known as ‘Caso Majestic’ during its investigation, has also resulted in prison sentences of eight years for business owner Frank Robert Mani, six months for Sánchez’s wife María Luisa Calvente, and a fine for lawyer Rafael Duarte, who was an external advisor to Casares town hall at the time of the offences, before going on to head the caretaking committee at Marbella town hall after that council was dissolved in the Malaya case.

The court sentence concludes that over different periods from 1979 onwards - and more specifically between 2000 and 2006 - Sánchez and Mani made several corrupt deals. These led to the modification of the local urban planning regulations to the benefit of the companies that formed part of the Majestic group, owned by Mani, in exchange for financial rewards for Sánchez.

The sentence refers to three deals which caused losses of several hundred thousand euros to the town hall coffers as well as increasing the volume of construction allowed on land owned by Majestic or changing the status of other land where building was previously prohibited.

The court found that Robert Mani gave Sánchez several sums of money whose amounts have not been specified exactly but were never less than 286,200 euros, according to the sentence.

The funds received by the then mayor and his wife were laundered through investments in three companies which had no real business activity but were set up exclusively to be able to transfer the funds. The shares in the companies were obtained in such a way, said the sentence, that it was difficult to identify their true owner.

The then mayor also laundered part of the money received through the purchase of ten winning ONCE lottery tickets in October 2005. In this way he managed to put 165,000 euros into legal circulation.

Sánchez was arrested on 14 May 2012 and remanded in custody until he paid bail of 200,000 euros three days later.

The investigation linked the Majestic group with a criminal organisation from Eastern Europe known as Kremlyoskaya, which settled on the Costa del Sol at the beginning of this century. The two individuals identified as being the ringleaders of the organisation escaped before they could be arrested.