surinenglish

Guardia Civil called in as mayor accuses Mijas phone-tapping auditor of fraud

Maldonado on Wednesday.
Maldonado on Wednesday. / I. G.
  • Last week's revelation that spying of councillors may have been going on at the town hall's TV and radio station appears to have been a hoax

An accusation of phone-tapping of Mijas councillors and the mayor revealed last week was strange enough. But the story took a stranger turn this week with the news that the technical auditor who first discovered the reported tapping while checking staff computers is now under police investigation over suspected fraud.

Last week SUR reported that bugging had been "uncovered" by an independent external technician at the municipal-run broadcaster. Several councillors on the board were said to have been spied on in the "expert's" first conclusions presented to Mijas Comunicación, and he had asked for more money to carry on the work

However, despite some opposition parties insisting the internal inquiry should continue, Mayor of Mijas, Juan Carlos Maldonado, who is also chair of the board at the broadcaster, had his suspicions all was not right with the auditor.

Suspected fraud

When rumours of the bugging scandal emerged last week, the Treasury department cut off business for a day amid seemingly unfounded fears that the department had been hit by eavesdropping as well. With that news, the mayor lost patience with the internal inquiry at the television and radio station, and, after ordering the Treasury department back to work, reported the external auditor to the local Guardia Civil for apparent fraud.

The technician who made the supposed bugging discovery has been named as César Gil Mauriz. He told board members he was a "perito judicial", a form of authorised judicial investigative agent, and had carried on with his work in Mijas after the "bugging" discovery wearing an official identification jacket and an ID badge while promising to hand over full details of his finds in the following days.

Speaking to SUR at the time, Maldonado said that the audit process "is in no way clear" and that, in his opinion, it had caused public unease, "based on nothing up to now". A lawyer acting for the mayor asked the technician to come up with proof at another board meeting of Mijas Comunicación last Friday but none was forthcoming, nor had any proof of the technician's credentials been shown to members.

The mayor continued earlier this week, "In among this storm whipped up in the media, some questions need answering: Is it really a judicial investigative expert who is carrying out this investigation? Does he have legal permission to carry out this work? Just like it says in the press, if he had taken on this role, has he told an investigating court? Is he technically qualified to carry out this work?"

The auditor, Gil Mauriz, was interviewed by local Guardia Civil on Tuesday this week. On Wednesday the mayor appeared before the media to give advance details of the police reports and to reassure the municipality that the whole incidence appears to have been a false alarm.

Previous arrests

He said that Laura Delgado, the new station manager, had hired Gil Mauriz in good faith to carry out the audit of staff computers as she had just taken over. But it appears that the auditor has been involved in similar incidents at other companies recently in which he has been arrested, although the mayor didn't know the status of those investigations on Wednesday.

Far from being a spy scandal as he claimed, it seems he found only some supposed illegal software on workers' computers and the report showed no evidence of anything else.