STAFF REPORTER

PALMA

BALEARIC government spokesperson Joana Barcelo said yesterday how sad it was for the Islands to be tainted yet again by another alleged corruption scandal.

Barcelo was making reference to “Operation Cloaca,” a recently unearthed case of possible misappropriation of public funds involving the Council of Majorca.

Its Environment department, led during the time of the supposed fraud, by Majorcan Unionist party spokesman Catalina Julve, is being investigated for false accounting and accepting “commission” for the removal of solid urban waste from outlying areas of the island.

Barcelo said that the Socialist coalition government “deplores” the fact that alleged criminal activity has emerged in a publicly-run institution but added that it was confident that the law would be swift to establish the facts and bring those responsible to justice.

Barcelo, who is also the Balearic minister for Tourism and Employment, said that it would now be a question of waiting to hear the outcome of Fraud Squad investigations and reports by the Public Prosecution service. Meanwhile, said Barceló, the government remains highly concerned about the possible implication of senior local authority figures.

So far, six people have been arrested in “Operation Cloaca”, two of whom remained in police custody yesterday. One is 50-year-old Simon Galmes Veny, a businessman running waste disposal services in the outlying areas of Majorca. The second is 47-year-old Guillem Riera who is the ex Waste Management Director of the Council of Majorca.

The other detainees who were given a conditional discharge are Maria Mascoro, Financial Director of the Melchor Mascaro construction group, one of Majorca's biggest companies; Maria Morey, an economist working for the Waste Management sector of the Council of Majorca; Gabriel Perelló, a technical engineer in charge of managing invoices related to selective rubbish collection and container management; and a representative of a joint venture company.

Allegations are that companies which were contracted by the Council of Majorca to manage urban waste in outlying areas unlawfully overcharged, grossly inflated their invoices, and that the Council of Majorca accepted “commission” from these companies.

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