The defense lawyer considers that, after the testimony given by witnesses and experts before the Jury Court, there is no proof or indication whatsoever to show that Castillo Melo appropriated more than 145,000 euros of the income from the box office of the Fairgrounds between 2005 and 2016.
In the investigation of the case, documentation was gathered in which there were supposedly indications that Castillo appropriated various amounts of money. A Family Court of Santa Cruz de Tenerife decreed that the accused today his payroll had to be garnished for a total of 11,222 euros, that is, 510 euros per month. However, the money was transferred, directly, from the bank account of the Fairgrounds to that of his ex-wife to pay alimony. Another amount that he did not return is allegedly related to “cash vouchers”, that is, he took out more than 9,000 euros in cash for urgent or personal expenses and allegedly did not replace them. And then he ordered to extract 354 euros from the account of the public company to pay personal taxes, without it being known that he returned such a figure.
But the highlight of the case is in the more than 124,000 euros, which, at the time of the defendant’s retirement, had to appear as cash and appeared as very old and expired promissory notes. The prosecutor and the lawyers of the accusations base their conviction that Castillo stole that amount of money, above all, in a report prepared by two experts from the consulting firm Ernst & Young. As the prosecutor summarized in the conclusions, in the report of said firm it is noted that, at the end of 2015, the more than 124,000 euros were consigned as cash, while at the beginning of the following year they had already become the aforementioned past due notes.
Castillo Melo’s argument was that, by order of the then manager of the Recinto Ferial de Tenerife, Ignacio Pintado Mascareño, diverted the old and overdue promissory notes to a Treasury account (“578”), because if they had been assigned to “losses”, a risk of dissolution of the insular company would have been generated. The defense attorney assured that the fact that there were at least two accounting movements for the aforementioned amount of money does not mean that “Mr. Castillo” had appropriated the more than 124,000 euros.
The Prosecutor’s Office and the accusations believe that the former head of Administration and Accounting exercised absolute and comprehensive control over the cash income of the public company. In other words, he received the income from the box office, he decided how much was deposited in the bank and what was left “in the box” of the department, at the same time that he was responsible for ordering what was recorded in the accounting.
Faced with part of the Defense strategy to assign responsibility for key decisions to the former manager, Ignacio Pintado, now deceased, the prosecutor thinks he was only wrong by relying too much on Castillo’s practices and that he did not like or know the accounting procedure. Thus, the former head of Accounting achieved “absolute power” in his area.
For the Public Ministry and the accusations, another key element to determine the guilt of the person involved is that he signed a document in which he renounced part of his retirement award (about 6,000 euros) to compensate for the alleged accounting irregularities that had been detected shortly before your departure.
The Ernst & Young experts explained that, based on their experience, Castillo meets the profile of a person who commits fraud, since they are individuals who control the entire process and that irregularities are uncovered when they take vacations, sick leave or retire. Said professionals described as “nonsense” the defendant’s argument that Ignacio Pintado asked to divert the old and expired promissory notes to a Treasury account, to avoid the dissolution of the mercantile company. For the referred experts, trying to hide a loss in a company does not eliminate the existence of the same. “It is not an argument, it is an indication of fraud,” they explained.
Yesterday the statement that Ignacio Pintado made in the Investigating Court was read, in which he stated that I did not know that Castillo had created an accounting entry with 124,000 euros in uncollected promissory notes nor that part of the payroll had been seized from the former Chief of Accounting or that he had paid such debt and his personal taxes from the account of the company dependent on the Cabildo. The former manager attributed his dismissal to the fact that he went to report the alleged embezzlement to the Prosecutor’s Office before communicating the matter to “the politicians” who governed the island corporation.
Ignacio Castillo: “Why have they put me into this?”
A defense expert explained that creating account «578» to assign in it the different old and expired promissory notes for a total value of more than 124,000 euros could have two objectives, such as keeping the lack of income hidden internally and hide such entry from those who did the audits. This specialist pointed out that, if such amount had been led to “losses”, there was a risk of dissolution of the public company. A second expert hired by the Defense argued that the three reports of the accusations (that of Violeta Yanes, who was going to replace Castillo; that of the expert Godoy and the one made by Ernst & Young) do not accredit the authorship of the former head of Accounting. He insisted that a thorough accounting analysis was necessary in this matter, something that none of the above experts did. In one of the briefs it is stated that “there may have been abductions, but it does not point to anyone in particular,” said this expert witness. He went on to say that, if there were indications, it would have been very easy to verify the alleged withdrawal of money with bank statements; something no one did, according to him. He insisted that the fact that there were new accounting entries did not mean that there were movements of funds. The defendant took advantage of his last turn to speak to express that in the investigation there is “no indication that I appropriated money and the experts cannot assure it.” He clarified that he did not take money from the public society account and, excited, ended his speech with two questions: “Why have they gotten me into this? Why do they want to condemn me?”