By Humphrey Carter
PALMA

THE Balearics was yesterday rocked by a fresh investigation into alleged corruption within a public administration.

This time, the spotlight has fallen on the Balearic Port Authority and the National Police fraud squad yesterday began investigating the activities of a number of civil servants working for the port authority and the alleged charging of commissions for the use of public land in a number of Balearic ports.

According to National Police chiefs, the operation was given the green light early yesterday morning and throughout the day members of the fraud squad searched the offices of the Balearic Port Authority in Palma, two offices of a private company in the Majorcan capital and Mahon as well as a private property in Palma.

As of early evening, no arrests had been made but police sources said it was only a matter of time and, according to sources close to the case, the investigation into a number of alleged cases of corruption, including the awarding of the concession of the Club Maritimo in Mahon, has been ongoing for the past two years, when Joan Verger was head of the Port Authority.

Yesterday morning, members of the fraud squad accompanied by tax inspectors and the judge handling the case, Antoni Rotger, searched the Port Authority's headquarters in Palma and the office of the current director, Angel Matias.

Judge Antoni Rotger had ordered that a media blackout be placed on “Operacion Mar Blau” (Operation Blue Sea) until yesterday.
According to National Police sources, the fraud squad is investigating crimes “apparently” carried out by civil servants working for the Port Authority, in particular the awarding of concessions in a number of local ports to a certain private company.

It appears that the fraud squad are probing claims of bribery, malpractice by civil servants, the altering of concession and public auction prices and fraud. It appears that a series of recorded conversations between various civil servants, the ex-president of the Port Authority Joan Verger, the current director, Angel Matias and the private company involved are key to the investigation.

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