SITGES – On June 23, 2023, the National Police arrested the mayor of Sitges, Aurora Carbonell (ERC), and four municipal officials on suspicion of irregularities in tenders and subsidies.
The police searched the town hall of Sitges (Barcelona) on Wednesday morning for possible irregularities in the awarding of contracts to companies. Carbonell has been released after her arrest pending her appearance in court in Vilanova i la Geltrú (Barcelona). Two other detainees remained detained longer at the La Verneda police station. They were then brought to court a few hours later.
La @policia ha detingut 11 persones en l’operatiu d’aquest matí a Sitges, de les quals 4, entre elles l’alcaldessa Aurora Carbonell, seguiran als calabossos fins a passar a disposició judicial, possiblement divendres. La resta poden marxar de comissaria a l’espera de ser citats. pic.twitter.com/L6v6q5oBlQ
— Anna Punsí (@punsix) June 21, 2023
In addition to the mayor, the councillor of Urban Services, Jaume Monasterio, the secretary general of the municipality and two officials, one of whom is retired, was also arrested. Moreover, it cannot be ruled out that more arrests will follow.
Public service contracts
The alleged irregularities relate to contracts for various public services dating back to 3 to 5 years ago. The investigation and house searches were carried out by order of the Investigating Judge 8 in Vilanova I la Geltrú (Barcelona).
Offences of office, embezzlement and forgery of documents
According to judicial sources, the investigation has been ongoing since May 2022 and focuses on possible crimes of office, embezzlement and forgery of documents. It examines the actions of the Municipality of Sitges regarding the Taula del Tercer Sector (a platform for the third sector) and a local cooperative, in particular the award of grants and smaller contracts between 2017 and 2022.
A total of 13 persons have been investigated in this case, including the mayor and 8 councillors of the municipality of Sitges, as well as four individuals involved in one of the investigated cooperatives.
Response from Sitges municipality
Sitges Municipality has responded to the arrests with a statement claiming that the alleged irregularities had already been investigated internally. They have engaged legal professionals to clear things up, stopped grants, reviewed files, and taken steps to recover grants that were wrongly awarded. The municipality states that they have reports confirming these actions. Furthermore, they emphasise that they are a transparent institution with a strict code of ethics and that they fully cooperate with the authorities and the judicial authorities.