In a comment about the previous post where I mentioned Spain’s serious economic difficulties, Charley Circus, author of the great blog, So Lovely, observed how one-sided a country’s news reporting can be. And this got me thinking. About all the stories here in Andalucia, for instance, that would hardly make it into the Spanish national press, let alone The LA Times or The Times (of London).
One recent local story stands out in particular since it highlights Marbella’s recent murky past. (A sunny place for shady people perhaps, to quote Somerset Maugham.) A litter bin (no, a skip) filled to overflowing with corruption scandals which the authorities, to be fair, are doing their best to eradicate. Though not enough in the opinion of a good friend of mine, Isabella, an English lawyer who’s been here over fifteen years and still deals with instances of corruption and bribery. In her view, it will take another generation for corruption to be the exception rather than the norm. When today’s youth comes of age in an environment when bribes and backhanders are no longer seen as the sine qua non of the Harvard Business School (Spain) model.
‘Spanish customs and practices’ is an oft used axiom - could equally well describe the operation of the UK’s ‘gentlemen’s club’ parliamentary expenses system - and here in Andalucia we are reminded of it every time we hear that a former mayor/councillor is remanded in custody/ released on bail/ comes to trial/comes to the public’s notice in some form or other.
And I was immediately reminded of it again when I heard that the former Mayor of Marbella, Julián Muñoz (above), who is not only currently serving a prison sentence, with day release privileges, for town planning crimes but still faces another 50 court cases on various counts including the so-called 'Malaya' case, is to give a guest appearance at a Madrid University Summer Course to talk about… Yes, you guessed right - "Corruption"…
It was the ‘Malaya’ case, in fact, that brought Muñoz, my chosen beast, to universal notice amid allegations of money laundering, property development offences, including building on land protected from development, manipulation of public tenders, the acceptance of bribes as well as schemes to alter the price of municipal services. Police seized, incidentally, more than €45,000 in CASH from the home of Muñoz's girlfriend, the singer Isabel Pantoja, which she claimed were for "household expenses". Which by comparison makes moats and duck islands seem pretty small fry… Hmm
So, let’s just imagine Muñoz - former waiter and chauffeur - sitting down and putting together some of the main bullet points for his inaugural lecture entitled:
The Muñoz Master Class in Corruption:
- Fings wot I done (and got away with)
- Fings wot I didnt get done (but would ave if I hadnt got nicked)
- Fings wot worked (and made me shedloads of dosh)
- Fings wot didnt work (couldnt make enough dosh out of 'em)
- Fings wot I saw (and should have turned a blind eye to)
- Fings wot I didn’t see (and wish now I had)
- Fings wot I said (and were lies)
- Fings wot I didnt say (but were lies anyway)
- Fings wot I wish Id said (and might’ve kept me out of all this ****)
- Fings wot I wish I hadnt said (but landed me in all this **** anyway)
- Fings wot I would do again (now I knows not what to do)
- Fings wot I wouldnt do again (now I knows they ******* won’t ******* work)
Signed X (Julián Muñoz), Marbella, 22 May 2009
The course director, Juan Luis Galiacho, who approved the proposal put forward by one of the lecturers, pointed out that the course is an "open forum" and "Muñoz can say what he likes ...Besides, he is not being paid to come".
And what about Muñoz himself? Asked about the course, he neither confirmed nor denied his intentions but remarked - ironically - that he never gets paid. (This from a self-made multi-millionaire. Millions made by himself - from corruption.)
Interestingly other speakers on the same subject of corruption include Spain’s Ombudsman, the Attorney General, a Cardinal, several politicians and the very judge who jailed the late, former mayor, Jesús Gil, the tip of Marbella’s corruption iceberg.
And what, you ask, is the beauty of the title? Here in Andalucia, mid-May is the season of one of the most beautiful flowering trees I know. The jacaranda. The gorgeous flowers only last for a week or so but what beauty! And what a contrast to the dirty, devious, disgusting dealings of my beast, Muñoz.
NB. Julián Muñoz wants it to be known that he offers his services as Guest Speaker (Specialist Subject: "Corruption or How To Con All The Punters All The Time") on the world business leaders’ circuit following in the footsteps of Blair and Clinton. For further details of other services available from 3 M (Muñoz MoneyMaking Machine Inc), apply directly to Julián himself to whom all moneys from whatever source (no questions asked) should be sent and by whom no reasonable offers (except from Nigeria) will be refused.