Monday, 18 September 2023, 17:10
The mayor of Ronda will go before a judge as authorities investigate a municipal cleaning company for allegedly embezzling tens of thousands in local government money.
María de la Paz Fernández Lobato was called to testify, along with six other people, including the former councillor and also former mayor, María Teresa Valdenebro Ríos, for alleged embezzlement through municipal cleaning company, Soliarsa. Lobato will face questioning for her role in the company, of which she was the president of the board of directors in the years referred to in the complaint, according to a court order dated 19 July, seen by SUR.
The Guardia Civil investigation relates to a series of suspicious 'incidents' at the company between 2017 and 2020. Among them is an alleged expense of 86,817 euros that cannot be accounted for through any receipts or documentation. There were also 'hirings that do not comply with the principles of equality merits, and capacity for access to public employment', according to the court documents. There were also allegedly salary raises paid in cash, bonuses 'that were not justified or controlled by anyone' and an imbalance in the books due to outgoing cash payments without receipts.
SUR contacted the mayor on Saturday 16 September, but she declined to comment. The town hall sent the newspaper a written response instead: "Maripaz Fernández Lobato has been called to testify as an investigated person, as will also happen with the former mayor with the PSOE, María Teresa Valdenebro, in a procedure in which an alleged crime of embezzlement is being investigated.
"She is not accused of having intervened or participated in any specific activity, but is called to testify as a witness for the objective fact of having been president of the board of directors of the municipal cleaning company, Soliarsa, during the period under investigation. The court is calling the two people who were chairpersons of the board of directors. At no time is she accused of having anything to do with the circumstances reported, nor is it even indicated that she had any knowledge of them".
The spokesperson for the Socialist group in Ronda, Francisco Cañestro, said: "We demand that the mayor tell the truth about everything that is happening in this company, which has been a management disaster in recent years. We ask her to tell the people of Ronda what is happening and why she has been called to testify before the court and to be clear and forceful in her explanations."
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