Thursday, March 3, 2011

Calatrava: Case Update

In a post on January 4th I discussed the court case on Santiago Calatrava's unrealized project for a waterside opera in Palma de Mallorca, where I wrote:
News is still scarce, but ... Santiago Calatrava's ... 1.2 million euro fee for the design of an opera in Palma de Mallorca in 2007 has raised the suspicions of Judge José Castro... The judge is investigating the regional President at the time, Jaume Matas, for 25 cases of illegal bribes, kick-backs and other schemes for robbing public funds.
Here is an update on the case:
Both Calatrava and Matas have been indicted by the judge, and have testified before him since our last post. The major accusations to emerge so far are two.

First, on the part of ex-President Matas, the commission was given to Calatrava without following legal procedures, which require competitions to be organized for all public projects, among other things, and without any preliminary studies justifying the project. According to the accusation, the design was a public relations stunt concieved by Matas during an election campaign. In fact, the public commission overseeing the electoral process at the time halted the execution and publication of the project as a violation of campaign fair play.

Matas is therefore accused of using public funds "for exclusively personal and partisan interests," according to prosecutors. The judge has imposed a bail of 1.6 million euros on Matas for his potential personal liability in the case; this is in addition to the 3 million euros he has already posted for other charges in related cases (El País, 02.13.11; 03.03.11) .

Secondly, Calatrava`s office has been accused of numerous irregularities in billing the project, most flagrantly the failure to pay the required 16% Value Added Tax (VAT) on the 1.2 million fee, or more than 160,000 euros, according to a report presented by the Spanish tax authority to the court (El Mundo 01.17.11).

Calatrava is also accused of being an accomplice and party to the fraud perpetrated by Matas. He presented only two models, a video and a power point presentation of the design, without any other documents or studies, according to the prosecution. The local press in Mallorca has picked up accusations that Calatrava lifted the design directly from a 1989 competition project for a floating structure in the Lake of Lucerne (see for example here), a charge Calatrava has denied in court.

Stay tuned for further developments...

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