The former president of the Junta de Andalucía regional government began testifying in court in Seville this week in the so-called ERE case of misuse of public money.
José Antonio Griñán is the first of the two former regional presidents charged in the case to appear. His predecessor, Manuel Chaves is not expected to start his testimony until next week.
Along with the two former presidents, another 20 other top officials in the regional government are on trial as part of the ERE scandal.
The case revolves around the supposed use of public money to pay illegal subsidies to companies. From 2001 to 2010 the PSOE-party controlled Junta de Andalucía operated social support programmes for companies in trouble. In total over 700 million euros was spent.
As part of the programmes, there were supposed payments for fake early retirements for people that never worked at the companies affected; grants to companies that weren't downsizing and to non-existent companies; and extra-high commissions paid to intermediaries such as lawyers and consultants, totalling a misspend of some 136 million euros, investigators have alleged.
The prosecution says that it was impossible for the two former presidents not to have known as they signed off budgets. However, in his statements to the court this week, Griñán said he had no idea of the irregularities until the scandal broke in 2011 and appeared to point the finger at the regional ministry of Employment for its “debateable and unsatisfactory” handling.
The former minister for Employment, appearing ahead of Griñán, had told the court that the subsisides had been virtually all in order.