By Humphrey Carter

THE President of the Balearics, Francesc Antich, publicly apologised yesterday after the National Police mounted a series of raids in Majorca and Madrid as part of a fresh investigation into the alleged misuse of public funds by Ibatur, the Balearic Tourism Institute, the Ministry for Tourism's marketing and promotions wing.

No arrests were made yesterday but sources close to the investigation mounted by Palma Anti-corruption Prosecution and the National Police fraud squad, said that further raids are expected to be made over the next few days which could lead to arrests eventually being made.

The probe is focusing on the financial activities of Ibatur during former conservative Partido Popular President Jaume Matas's legislature when it was under the charge of Raimunda Alabern between 2004 and 2007. “Operation Pasarela” was mounted first thing yesterday morning with members of the National Police fraud squad raiding a public relations company and Pula Golf club in Son Servera where the Ibatur sponsored Mallorca Golf Classic was played. Yesterday afternoon, the public relations company issued an official statement underlining the fact that it is cooperating fully with the police. The police also visited the Balearic Sustainable Tourism Foundation which is housed in the former Costa Nord cultural centre in Valldemossa. Apparently, during the previous PP legislature, the Sustainable Foundation was run by Pau Collado who is also involved in the extremely high profile “Gurtel Case” in Valencia.

Two locations with apparent business connections with the Palma marketing company in Santa Maria and Llucmajor were also raided and the two companies visited by the fraud squad in Madrid are sports promotions and event organisers which were involved in staging the Mallorca Golf Classic at the Pula Golf club.

One of them, Over Marketing, was apparently hired by the Sustainable Foundation during the Matas legislation to promote the Green Card (Tarjeta Verde) which the Partido Popular government introduced as an alternative to the tourist tax introduced by the former Francesc Antich government. However, it appears that Over Marketing was apparently hired on a number of occasions by the Ministry for Tourism during the former legislature.

The Minister for Tourism on whose watch the alleged misuse of public funds apparently occurred, Joan Flaquer, has already denied any wrongdoing, taking commission from contracts or inflating bills.