Caso Koldo: Major Spanish face mask scandal revealed

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In the most critical weeks of the pandemic, as thousands of people in Spain died from COVID-19, the corruption scandal now known as ‘Caso Koldo’ was engineered. This scandal affects the government of Pedro Sánchez.

Caso Koldo involves the award of at least six contracts by government organisations. Two autonomous communities led by the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party) are also involved. The usual tender procedures were skipped. The name ‘Koldo’ refers to Koldo García, the advisor to former Minister of Development José Luis Ábalos. The anti-corruption prosecutor estimates that the contracts have increased this man’s wealth by €1.5 million. Last Wednesday, 14 people were arrested in connection with this case, including Koldo García, his wife and brother.

From 0 to 53 million euros

The company Soluciones de Gestión y Apoyo SL plays a leading role in the story. This company saw its turnover increase from 0 to more than €53 million between 2019 and 2020. Without a tender, the company was awarded at least six contracts. These came from various government departments and the autonomous communities of the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands. Two other contracts, which would bring the total to eight, are still under investigation.

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Other key figures

Soluciones de Gestión y Apoyo SL was registered to the Basque businessman Íñigo Rotaeche. However, in the first weeks of the pandemic, the company was managed by the Grupo Cueto. This company belonged to businessman Juan Carlos Cueto. He is considered in the investigation to be the mastermind and the most important figure in the case. Of importance in this context is the fact that Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez declared the first state of emergency of the pandemic on March 14, 2020. This was followed by a strict lockdown in Spain that lasted until June 21.

Chronology of the contracts

  • First contract: March 21, 2020: Just a week after the declaration of the state of emergency, Puertos del Estado, under the then Ministry of Development, awarded the first contract to Soluciones de Gestión y Apoyo SL. The company would supply 8 million masks worth €24 million.
  • Second contract: March 27, 2020: Adif, also dependent on the ministry led by José Luis Ábalos, awarded the company €12.5 million for the supply of 5 million masks.
  • Third contract: April 20, 2020: The Ministry of the Interior, through the Secretary of State for Security, awarded the company almost €3.5 million for the supply of medical equipment.
  • Fourth and fifth contracts: The Ministry of Health of the Canary Islands awarded two contracts for the supply and transport of masks, with a total value of approximately €12.3 million.
  • Sixth contract: May 8, 2020: The Ministry of Health in the Balearic Islands awarded the company €3.7 million for the supply of masks.

Research continues into the scandal

The corrupt network bought properties with money obtained from irregular commissions for supplying the masks during the pandemic. Koldo García allegedly used family members to move and hide money. The investigation also revealed suspicious financial activity. This includes the purchase of properties worth up to €1.5 million within a short period. These were unrelated to their official income. The investigation into ‘Caso Koldo’ is still in full swing, but already points to large-scale abuse of power.

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