Ever since Marbella's corrupt former town-planning chief was handed his prison sentence, the local town hall had only been able to recover nine million euros of the 60 million embezzled by Juan Antonio Roca. However, last week, that figure went up by 12 million euros when a judge handed the mayor of Marbella, Ángeles Muñoz, a cheque.
It's the first time since the infamous Operation Malaya, a corruption scandal centred on the town hall, broke some 12 years ago that such a large amount has been handed back at once. Of the 300 million euros extra in fines that the town hall is due in the case overall as compensation from those involved, only just over 15 million has been paid so far.
Up to now this money has had to go to pay off historic tax and social security payment debts from previous mayors including Jesus Gil. However more funds can now be dedicated instead to funding new capital projects in the town after a recent government agreement.
The money handed over last week by the leading judge in the Malaya trial has come from the part- sale of Juan Antonio Roca's multi-million-euro assets. These had been placed on a public website in order for people to bid on.
The chair of the bench, José Godino, praised the union "between the judges on one side and the politicians on the other" in order to get results for the people of Marbella. He added that he hoped to hand over more cheques in the future.
In addition Marbella is set to see Malaya-linked property assets, (those located in the town and which were embargoed in the case), handed over directly to councillors and not sold off. One possibility includes a disused building alongside the A-7 and Costa del Sol hospital that could be used as a new central court for the town.
Ángeles Muñoz thanked the judge for his consideration. "He's a person who understands how a town like ours has suffered," said Muñoz, referring to the Malaya corruption case.