The Court of Accounts, the supreme audit body for the economic management of the public sector in Spain, concludes that the purchase of the Geneto land in 2012 for 19 million euros by the Science and Technology Park of Tenerife (PCTT, a company of the Tenerife Council) was correct, it was carried out in accordance with market conditions and it did not cause any patrimonial damage to the public entity.
This investigation originates from a report by the General Comptroller of the Cabildo de Tenerife, Antonio Messia, who in 2020, with the PSOE and citizens at the head of the island government, denounces an alleged case of urban corruption in the purchase of two plots of land located in the Ciudad Deportiva del CD Tenerife, in La Laguna, one from the club itself and the other from the public-private company NAP of West Africa. In that year, 2012, Ricardo Melchior was president of the Island Corporation and Carlos Alonso vice-president, both from Canarian Coalition.
The Messia report warned of a succession of irregularities in this urban operation and indications of the crimes of unfair administration, prevarication, embezzlement and accounting responsibility in those responsible at that time for the Cabildo for causing “an impairment of public funds.” The auditor, one of the main inspectors of the economic activity of the Island Corporation, sent his complaint in 2020 to the Court of Accounts, the Provincial Court, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Court of Accounts of Canary Islands.
More than two years later, the Prosecution section of the Court of Auditors resolves that after examining the documentation “the facts assessed are not likely to generate an alleged accounting scope in public funds, since an illegal accounting cannot be interpreted.” This exposes the country’s highest supervisory body in a settlement act signed last Tuesday.
With this resolution, the Prosecution section overturns one of the main arguments – due to its alleged irregularities the operation created an economic hole in the public coffers of the Cabildo – which led the ordinary courts to open two criminal proceedings, which are still ongoing: the Geneto case and the NAP case.
Antonio Messia saw indications to act against those responsible for this sale for assuming an “irregular use of public funds” for the acquisition on January 24, 2012 of the two farms, which occupy an area of 30,700 square meters and for which the company del Cabildo paid 18.9 million euros. For the inspector, the Cabildo paid more than five times its real value for these lands thanks to an irregular appraisal and a price much higher than that of plots similar to those of Geneto.
As a result of said complaint, the Court of Accounts requested information in 2021 and 2022 from the parties involved: Cabildo, Science and Technology Park, La Laguna City Council, CD Tenerife and University of La Laguna. As a conclusion to the proceedings, the Court of Accounts deduces that there was no property damage, validating the appraisals and determining that the price paid by the PCTT for the land was adequate. He considers that the entity’s Board of Directors did not commit any accounting offense.
The Cabildo Science Park acquired a 13,258-square-meter estate from CD Tenerife for 13 million euros and another 17,442-square-meter estate from NAP for 5.9 million. In total, the purchase of the land represented a disbursement of 18.9 million euros for the PCTT, an amount that was adjusted to the market price, as has been demonstrated in the conclusions of the highest national supervisory body. The objective was to allocate that land to centers related to innovation and new technologies.
This resolution will have repercussions on the ongoing legal proceedings. It comes to endorse the position defended by the previous members of the Board of Directors of the PCTT that the operations were carried out respecting the law and without causing any harm to the company or the Cabildo.
In the judicial process that is taking place in parallel and in which this resolution of the Court of Accounts will influence, of the 10 accused of prevarication and embezzlement at the beginning of the Geneto case, there are now six left: the former presidents of the Cabildo by CC Ricardo Melchior and Carlos Alonso , the former councilors of the Cabildo Antonio García Marichal (CC) and María del Pino Lion (CC), the former insular director of Innovation Juan Antonio Núñez and the lawyer of the Science Park José Luis Luengo, the only one who was not a director of the Science and Technology Park but an advisor.
In September 2022, the judge of the Investigating Court Number 5 of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, who is investigating the Geneto case, closed the charges in the cases of other PCTT advisers who approved the operation. She ruled out the indications of crime in the participation of Julio Pérez (PSOE), Minister of Justice and Security of the canarian government; José Luis Delgado (PSOE), general director of Road Infrastructure of the regional Executive; Sergio Alonso (CC), mayor of La Laguna; and Luis Antonio Martínez, former director of the Starlight Foundation.
In the other judicial case derived from the Messia report, for alleged irregularities in the takeover 10 years ago by the public company ITER, the Cabildo de Tenerife, the public-private company NAP, only two remain under investigation for prevarication and embezzlement of the 14 that existed at the beginning: Ricardo Melchior, president of the Cabildo de Tenerife by CC between 1999 and 2013, and Manuel Cendagorta, who was director-manager of the Tenerife Institute of Technology and Renewable Energies (ITER).
The judge of the Investigating Court Number 1 of Granadilla, who is handling the NAP case, filed in September the accusations, among others, against Carlos Alonso, then Councilor for Economic Development of the Cabildo; Aurelio Abreu (PSOE), former vice president of the Island Corporation; Álvaro Arvelo, former president of CajaCanarias; Eduardo Doménech, former rector of the University of La Laguna; Francisco Sánchez, director of the Canary Islands Institute of Astrophysics (IAC); o Miguel Ángel Pérez (PSOE), Deputy Minister for the Fight Against Climate Change.