The mayor of Granadilla de Abona, José Domingo Regalado (Canarian Coalition), declared this Friday as under investigation before the head of the Court of Instruction 3 of that judicial district in the framework of the proceedings opened as a result of a complaint filed by the Prosecutor’s Office of Santa Cruz of Tenerife. The Public Ministry appreciates indications of the commission of the crimes of prevarication and embezzlement in an emergency contract for repair works on public roads that ended with an extra cost of at least (according to the certifications submitted so far), 90% with respect to the initial budget after including the construction of tool rooms, water tanks or a network of access to farms for individuals.
The municipal comptroller made objections considering the use of the emergency contract “inappropriate” (reserved for highly valued situations that require an emergency intervention) and detected other irregularities in the procedure. As stated in his appearance this Friday before the investigating judge, Regalado raised those objections following the criteria of another official, the secretary of the City Council, who disagreed with the interpretation of the inspector and understood that the Governing Board acted correctly when appreciating reasons for emergency.
The contract was signed on January 21, 2020. Five days earlier, a 30-meter wall that supported the structure on Cueva La Mora street had collapsed, causing a landslide. This incident occurred when work was being carried out to pave and improve the irrigation network in that area by Obras Geotécnicas de Canarias, the company that the City Council had contracted for that purpose in 2018 and to which it also directly awarded, without a tender being involved, the repair works on the affected road with an initial budget of 203,000 euros and an execution period of two months.
In order to guarantee safety in that place, the City Council ordered the contractor “to carry out the necessary work to remedy what happened with the collapse of the road and ensure the resistance of the public road in the affected section.” For this she relied on three reports. The first, an external one signed by the Civil Engineer Ofelia Manjón, who during the past mandate held the General Directorate of Roads in the Cabildo de Tenerife, governed by CC. That opinion gave an account of the collapse and “the actions that would have to be carried out on the ground.” The other two, signed by the municipal architect and by the contracting area, defended that it was necessary to go to the emergency procedure to solve it.
However, the external report also included among the actions to be undertaken the closure and filling of some caves that owners of adjoining plots had excavated under that road and used as tool rooms and water tanks and the reconstruction of these facilities, as well as access to their farms. And this, according to the Prosecutor’s Office in its complaint, “despite the fact that the emergency contracting procedure does not allow works that go beyond the emergency situation” and without the neighbors having urged the opening of the patrimonial claim procedure to determine if they were entitled to compensation, after proof of ownership of the land.
The initial budget was increased, through a credit modification, from 203,000 to 293,000 euros and the term, from two to four months. The final price of the work, resulting from the ten certifications issued, amounted, according to the Prosecutor’s Office, to 382,000 euros, an amount that “significantly exceeds the initial budget” (90% more) and even the modified one (30% ). Municipal sources indicate that there are still certifications to be registered, that the figure is even higher and is close to half a million.
In his statement in court, the mayor of Granadilla has acknowledged that he knew that a part of that contract was allocated to the construction of tool rooms and warehouses in a different place from the one where the collapse of the road occurred, but he hid behind at all times at the discretion of the secretary and in the reports in the file.
Some of the witnesses who have already paraded before the investigating judge in this case, including the secretary, have argued that these private works were undertaken to “compensate” the owners for the closure of the caves they used under that road. What is investigated in this procedure is the advisability of resorting to the emergency procedure and, above all, the use of this extraordinary contracting formula to pay for private works for the benefit of individuals who had not made any claim or had proven that they were the owners of affected rooms.