Nine tax agency employees have been arrested. / sur

Nine tax office employees among 31 detained in massive police operation in Malaga

The investigation, which has centred around suspected bribery and the issuing of fake tax certificates, is ongoing

JUAN CANO Malaga

A massive police operation in Malaga province has resulted in 31 people being arrested, among them business owners, administrators, and civil servants: specifically, nine people who work for the state tax authority, Hacienda.

The police are investigating suspected offences against the public administration, bribery and falsifying documents, and their operation has been carried out in two phases.

The first was in April, and resulted in 12 arrests, and the second has just ended with another 19 arrests. Five Hacienda employees were detained in the first phase, and four more in the second. Six of the nine are among the 15 sent to prison.

The investigation by UDEF, the financial crime unit of the National Police, began by looking into a scheme to provide fake tax certificates. These are used to prove that individuals and companies are solvent, as they show that tax payments are up to date and no money is owed to Hacienda. They are needed to work with public administrations, access contracts which are put to tender or apply for grants.

The police detected a series of irregularities in the issuing of these certificates, and a 'gestoría' office in Malaga province is believed to have been at the epicentre of the scheme, at least in its initial phase.

Although the operation was carried out by the police, the tax authority had already begun its own internal investigation into the matter and is believed to have made its findings available to them.