Wife of Spanish Prime Minister summoned for corruption

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Begoña Gómez

Begoña Gómez, the wife of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, must appear before an investigating judge in Madrid on July 5. This follows a complaint filed by the anti-corruption association ‘Manos Limpias’ (Clean Hands). They accuseher of conflict of interest and corruption.

According to ‘Manos Limpias’, Gómez allegedly used her position as the prime minister’s wife to recruit sponsors for a university master’s program that she leads. She is also accused of having contacts with private companies that have received financial support or government contracts. One of the cases mentioned in the investigation concerns government support for Air Europa. This is an airline that had serious financial problems during the corona crisis.

Alleged role of Gómez in government support for Air Europa

Begoña Gómez’s role in obtaining government support for Air Europa is an important part of the investigation. According to reports, she had two secret meetings with Javier Hidalgo, the CEO of Globalia, the parent company of Air Europa, in June and July 2020. These meetings took place at a time when the Spanish government was creating a €10 billion bailout fund. Of this, €475 million was used to save Air Europa.

Judicial decision

Last week, the Madrid court rejected a request to close the preliminary investigation. The court stated that there are indications that point to a possible criminal offense. Therefore, this justifies the continuation of the investigation. According to the investigating judge, there are sufficient indications to continue the investigation that started in April despite widespread criticism. According to the court involved, this is ‘not just about suspicions, but also about evidence that criminal offenses may have been committed’.

Government response

A spokesperson for the Spanish government has described the accusations as unfounded. The complaint is said to be “based on lies and disinformation”, fuelled by the right-wing opposition. Prime Minister Sánchez himself initially considered resigning in response to the accusations, but decided to stay on after five days of deliberation. He views the investigation as an attempt by far-right circles to damage his reputation. The investigation stemmed from a declaration by the anti-corruption group Manos Limpias, which reportedly has ties to radical right-wing parties. Since taking office as prime minister in 2018, his wife is now accused of abusing her influence around 2020 to help business contacts obtain government contracts or government support.

Controversial role of ‘Manos Limpias’

‘Manos Limpias‘ is known for regularly filing complaints about possible corruption. However, not all complaints lead to a judicial investigation or a lawsuit. Some complaints were even judged to be false. The organisation is said to have links with the far right in Spain, with general secretary Miguel Bernad who was a former leader of the far-right party Frente Nacional, which was dissolved in 1993.

Also read: Manos Limpias expands charges against wife Sánchez

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