Costa del Sol News - 30th March 2009

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

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Week March 30th -

Bank of Spain launches first Caja bailout

Caja Castilla-La Mancha to get liquidity boost of up to three billion euros

By David Eade

On Monday the Bank of Spain stepped in to rescue Caja Castilla-La Mancha (CCM), a troubled savings and loan suffering from a lack of liquidity. This is the first government intervention in a Spanish financial institution since the economic crisis began and the shares in the nation's banks took an immediate tumble on the stock exchange.

The minister for the economy, Pedro Solbes, assured the market that CCM "is a solvent entity, its net assets are positive, there has never been a financial hole, but it is facing problems that can only be solved by the financing of the Bank of Spain."

The Spanish government held an emergency meeting to approve a decree that permits the Bank of Spain to inject money in CCM. The decision was taken over the weekend along with the placing of three administrators in the savings bank.

The Bank of Spain reiterated Sr Solbes's message stressing the basic solvency of the institution, but added that it needed additional funding to assure its future. It acted after much publicised merger talks between CCM and the Andalucía-based savings bank Unicaja broke down.

Nerja's market set to open for Easter

The town hall has promised a special bus service to the market on Tuesdays

By Dave Jamieson

Nerja's weekly market is expected to re-open on a trial basis during Easter week. An agreement signed by the town hall and traders' representatives last week has paved the way for market to get underway again after over nine months of closure amidst acrimonious disputes.

The decision to move Nerja's Tuesday marke to tthe Almijara area was made after town centre residents complained about the inconvenience it caused and the emergency services warned of access problems.

However, it became clear very quickly that the traders were unhappy with the change and there has been no market since. A number of noisy protests were held outside the town hall on several Tuesday mornings last year as both sides dug their heels in.

However, the discussions continued and an accord was finally signed last Friday by the councillor responsible, José Miguel Jimena Ortega, and by Juan Rocas of the traders' association, along with two other traders. It establishes a working party made up of councillors, traders and others, which will oversee the market's operation at the new site during a trial period of six months.

Amongst the improvements to be made before the market re-opens is the repainting of the lines which define the boundary of each stall holder's space. One of the traders' biggest complaints was that the previous layout did not include space for their vehicles to be parked beside the stalls, but the new plan allows for this. A new draw will also be made to decide which trader gets which space on the site, while traffic flow at the site's entrance is to be changed.

To compensate for the new site's location being well outside the town centre, the town hall has promised a special local bus service running every Tuesday between the centre and the Almijara area.

Roca denies Liechtenstein money laundering link

Judge has added eight new charges against the alleged Malaya mastermind

By David Eade

The former director of town planning in Marbella, Juan Antonio Roca, the alleged mastermind behind the Malaya corruption scam, has been before Judge Óscar Pérez to hear new claims made against him. He denied that he had used a foundation in Liechtenstein to carry out money laundering operations.

At these new pre-trial hearings, Sr Roca is accused along with 17 other people from the over 100 now implicated in the Malaya case. Among those under the spotlight is former mayor Julián Muñoz.

The judge has now incorporated in the main case another eight offences against Sr Roca. These include trafficking in influences, use of false documentation, bribery, fraud, obstructing justice, a fiscal crime and two charges of money laundering.

The Liechtenstein allegations revolve around the Melifero foundation, which was allegedly used for money laundering in an operation dubbed ‘Crucero Banús'. The judge has indicated that almost a million euros was involved and that Sr Roca had evaded paying the tax authority around 465,000 euros.

It is also claimed that Sr Roca benefitted by receiving two apartments from Massimo Filippa, another of those implicated in the case, for his part in helping in the liquidation of a company owned by his father - the implication being that the properties were Sr Roca's percentage of the deal.

Missing Amy's parents angry at town hall 'snub'

Mayor refuses bus-stop campaign, offering ads in municipal media instead

By Oliver McIntyre

The parents of missing Irish teenager Amy Fitzpatrick angrily left a meeting with Mijas Mayor Antonio Sánchez last week after he refused their request for the town hall to launch a publicity campaign in the search for Amy. 

Amy's mother Audrey Fitzpatrick and stepfather David Mahon said they got the idea of a town hall-sponsored billboard and bus-stop ad campaign during a recent visit to the Canary Islands, where they met with the parents of missing nine-year-old Yeremi Vargas.  "The town hall there has really helped the family of Yeremi, and we are hoping for the same thing for Amy," the couple told Costa del Sol News ahead of their meeting with the mayor on Friday.

But just minutes after entering the mayor's office, the couple came out clearly upset, saying the mayor had refused their request on economic grounds and offered only to place a small ad in the municipal newspaper.  "We already put notices in the newspapers every week - we can do that ourselves," said Mrs Fitzpatrick, emphasising that "this is the first time we've asked for anything in Spain." 

The couple called the town hall's response "utterly ridiculous," and were unconvinced by the mayor's claims that the current economic situation made it impossible for the town hall to do more.  "If it was his daughter missing, or King Juan Carlos's, or Zapatero's - would we still be talking about the economic situation or would we be seeing posters and ads everywhere?" asked Mrs Fitzpatrick.