March 2. 2024. 3:27

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Spain’s Socialist Party rocked by allegations involving bribery, drugs and prostitution

A corruption scandal involving bribes, drugs and prostitutes has rocked Spain’s governing Socialist Party just three months before local elections.

The case erupted after a court on the Canary Islands started investigating local businessman Marco Antonio Navarro. He is believed to have been involved in a network that allegedly charged money from businesses in exchange for favours. Juan Bernardo Fuentes Curbelo, a member of the national parliament for the Socialist Party, is among those implicated by the claims.

Mr Navarro, who has been nicknamed “the Mediator”, is believed to have facilitated the network’s contacts within the business world. He has told Spanish media that Mr Fuentes Curbelo charged businesses a fee for access to contracts and subsidies. Mr Navarro has also detailed how groups of business people would visit the congress building with Mr Fuentes Curbelo and go for meals with him in Madrid as part of an effort to underline the influence of the politician.

At one particular meal, Mr Navarro said, 15 Socialist MPs were present along with representatives of a solar energy company in an effort to gain contracts for the firm. Those invited to such events would then go to a hotel with prostitutes, according to Mr Navarro, whose phone contained thousands of photos, audio clips and videos, some of which appeared to show those implicated by the claims in the company of prostitutes and taking cocaine.

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“The MPs [involved] are all from the Socialist Party, just the Socialist Party,” Mr Navarro told Telecinco television, adding that this was “the tip of the iceberg”.

Mr Fuentes Curbelo has been expelled from the Socialist Party, while Francisco Espinosa Navas, a retired civil guard general who has been implicated, is in custody. A total of 12 people are being investigated.

Socialist prime minister Pedro Sánchez has expressed his “full condemnation” of those who may be connected with the case. The Socialist Party’s spokesman, Patxi López, said that some MPs had confirmed that they had attended meals organised by the network, but he believed that they had nothing to hide.

“If there were parties that they attended, it would have been very unethical and nothing like the conduct expected of a Socialist MP,” he added.

However, social media users and some print media have accused a number of Socialist politicians of both attending meals with Mr Navarro and of wrongdoing. The opposition has also attacked the Socialist Party.

“It is regrettable that members of [parliament] should go to Madrid, not to carry out their duties but to entertain themselves in a regrettable way at night with all kinds of practices, from prostitution to drugs,” said Alberto Núñez Feijóo, leader of the conservative Popular Party (PP).

Mr Sánchez took office in 2018, after presenting a successful no-confidence motion against the then-government of the PP, which had itself been mired in a string of corruption cases. Since 2020, the Socialist Party have been in a coalition with the leftist Podemos.

The allegations come as politicians prepare for regional and municipal elections in May.

“If there is one thing that distances left-leaning voters from politics, it’s this kind of case,” said Pablo Echenique, spokesman for Podemos.