By Humphrey Carter

FIVE members of staff at Ibatur, the Balearic Tourism Institute responsible for tourism promotion and marketing for the Ministry for Tourism, were detained yesterday as part of an investigation into the alleged misuse of public funds which was launched on Tuesday morning.

None of the three women and two men were identified but sources close to the investigation dubbed Operation Pasarela, did confirm that they spent most of yesterday being questioned by judicial agents.

The investigation is focusing on the period between 2003 and 2007, when the conservative Partido Popular was in power and Jaume Matas, who is also facing court proceedings, was President.

According to fraud investigators, the National Police fraud squad is on the trail of at least 17 million euros of public funds which were allegedly misappropriated during the former legislature.

On Tuesday, when the police operation was first launched after six months of investigations, the National Police raided a number of businesses in Majorca and Madrid. Here on the island, police raided Pula Golf Club in Son Servera which used to host the Ibatur-sponsored Mallorca Golf Classic tournament, the main office of one of Majorca's top public relations agencies and two of its branches in Santa Maria and Lluchmajor and the Balearic Sustainable Tourism Foundation which is based at Costa Nord in Valldemossa.

In Madrid, two sports event organisers, publicity and marketing agencies were also raided.
One of them was involved in the Majorca golf tournament and the other the Partido Popular's election campaigns in 2003 and 2007.
Yesterday, the fraud squad continued to trawl through the boxes of documents confiscated during Tuesday's raids and, it is understood, that no further police action will be taken until the documents have been studied.

However, the judge presiding over the investigation has placed a press black out on judicial proceedings.
The political bickering began again yesterday with members of the far left claiming that this latest case of alleged corruption during the Jaume Matas legislature is further evidence that the Partido Popular is in no condition to return to power.

Jaume Font, the spokesperson for the PP in the Balearics, leapt to the defence of Matas's government claiming that his “thousands of things which created a great deal of jobs.” However, he did admit that if people are found guilty of any wrong doing, then they be made to pay.


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