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STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
A WHIFF of scandal was blowing down the corridors of Palma City Hall yesterday when reports emerged of ex-Town Planning Councellor and Mayor's deputy Javier Rodrigo de Santos being investigated by anti-corruption squads for allegedly using a Council credit card to run up bills to the tune of 45'000 euros at gay bars during his term of office.

The ex-Partido Popular Mayoress of Palma, Catalina Cirer - with whom de Santos worked closedly on a professional level - said yesterday that she felt “disappointed and deceived” and was reading the headlines as though they were about someone other than her ex-colleague. She added, however, that she was making no claim to judge the life of another person.

Speaking at a press conference together with other Partido Popular colleagues who held senior posts with her at City Hall and who were all visibly distressed by the reports, Cirer stated that her team were “extremely surprised” at the amount of money which had apparently gone astray between 2005 and 2007 during her term of office as Mayoress, and emphasised that the financial control systems in place at Palma's City Hall had clearly “failed.” Investigators had been called by Palma Council authorities when it was discovered that expenses being run up on the credit card of the ex-Town Planning Councillor were registered at odd hours of the day and night and with companies whose actions did not coincide with the services they advertised. De Santos is therefore facing a likely charge of embezzling public funds. Cirer said she just couldn't understand that paperwork backing up such expenditure was not scrutinised on its first presentation and urged current powers at City Hall to adopt failsafe mechanisms which would “close the loophole” against improper use.

Whilst maintaining that De Santos is innocent until proven guilty, Cirer wanted to disassociate the discovery of subversion of funds from other members of the Partido Popular team who worked with her during her term of office, and PP spokesman Miguel Ramis said it was important not to try to do “detective work” separately from the procedures that the Anticorruption squad were already undertaking.

Cirer said that whoever is responsible for the embezzlement, and whatever their position, should receive the same legal punishment as anyone else. “No one is above the law,” she asserted.