Alleged corruption in Madrid-Barcelona High-Speed Train construction, supervised by Spanish Government
Nine people were arrested on Monday in an operation run by the Guardia Civil, which is investigating an alleged misappropriation of public funds regarding work on the construction of the Madrid-Barcelona-France High-Speed Train line in the Catalan capital. The Anti-corruption Public Prosecutor’s Office suspects that €6 million could have been diverted. The Guardia Civil has searched the Madrid and Barcelona offices of Adif, the public company run by the Spanish Government which is in charge of building and maintaining train infrastructure in Spain. In addition, they have also searched the headquarters of private construction companies, such as Isolux Corsan, which has its headquarters in Barcelona. The details of the investigation are secret and cannot be disclosed yet, following a judicial order.
Barcelona (ACN).- Nine people were arrested on Monday in an operation run by the Guardia Civil, which is investigating an alleged misappropriation of public funds regarding work on the construction of the High-Speed Train line between Madrid and Barcelona. The Anti-corruption Public Prosecutor’s Office suspects that €6 million of public money could have been diverted during construction works undertaken in and near the Catalan capital between 2008 and 2012. The Guardia Civil has searched the Madrid and Barcelona offices of Adif, the public company run by the Spanish Government which is in charge of building and maintaining train infrastructure in Spain. In addition, they have also searched the headquarters of private construction companies which participated in building the High-Speed Train line. One of the companies is Isolux Corsan, which has its headquarters in the Catalan capital. The Guardia Civil has also searched the private homes of some detainees. Two of them could be Adif’s main technical supervisors of the Madrid-Barcelona line, though the details of the investigation are secret and cannot be disclosed yet, following a judicial order. However, further detentions cannot be ruled out in the coming days. There are suspicions that the construction cost might have been manipulated and presented as higher than they actually were in order to steal the difference. The alleged manipulation could have been agreed between some or all of the parties involved , including the construction company and the external consultancy supervising the technical works. The High-Speed Train line connecting Madrid and Barcelona, build by the Spanish Government, cost 31% more than budgeted. It cost €8.97 billion, when it was supposed to cost €6.82 billion, a difference of €2.14 billion. On top of this, it arrived in Barcelona in December 2008 and to the French border in 2012, more than a decade later than initially promised.
On Monday morning, the Guardia Civil simultaneously searched the Madrid and Barcelona offices of Adif, as well as the headquarters of construction companies and the private homes of some people involved in the investigation. In total, police undertook 11 different searches. The searches were undertaken to look for documents proving that the cost calculations were manipulated and to show how the figures were later justified. They were also looking for further documents that will have to be included in the final report on the construction work, a step that legally must take place within 3 years after the work is finished.,No such report has been handed in since construction ended in 2012, and the Guardia Civil is supposed to have taken all the documents already available. The operation is led by the Investigation Court no. 9 of Barcelona and the judge banned the disclosure of the investigation’s details. However, the Anti-Corruption Public Prosecutor’s Office announced that they believe that up to €6 million could have been diverted. The investigation lasted 8 months.
The Public Prosecutor Office also stated that the public tender allocating the construction work might have been manipulated, although no definitive conclusion on such matters has been reached yet. Another suspicion that is currently being investigated is whether the managers of Adif and construction companies might have reached an agreement to manipulate the building costs. The Public Prosecutor stated that there are reasons to believe that technical measurements might have been “repeatedly” altered during the construction works to present higher costs than the actual ones. In addition, they might have falsified the certificates once the work had been finished. In addition, several budget items would have been manipulated to include further work than that actually carried out. On top of this, some Adif civil servants might have received payments in order to look away or to directly accept such irregularities. Nothing has been proved yet since the investigation is still ongoing and no trial has taken place, but 9 people have been arrested already and more could follow.