The economic disaster that heavily indebted Spain has found itself in is clearly a consequence of Spain joining the euro

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The economic disaster that heavily indebted Spain has found itself in is clearly a consequence of Spain joining the euro, insists economist Dr. Manuel Balmaseda. When Spain joined the euro, the EU Central Bank settled overly low interest rates, resulting in Spain receiving “enormous amounts of credit which increased Spanish indebtedness, particularly foreign”. Cheap money created financial bubbles, for instance in real estate. When the 2008 economic crisis came, the bubbles burst, many companies went bankrupt and the whole overheated economy blew up, explains the professor. Madrid now needs more flexibility to curb deficit as the EU introduces new rules on budget discipline. Spain appears to have become the first country to test them. Madrid is desperately trying to negotiate a higher 2012 fiscal deficit target than that set by the European Commission. The austerity measures taken by the new conservative government of the eurozone's fourth largest economy will bear no fruit, believes Dr. Balmaseda, “because the problem is in the euro.” “There are great expectations that a new government is going to arrange the problem,” the professor says, stressing that the honeymoon of the Spaniards with the new government will not last for more than six to nine months. Dr. Manuel Balmaseda, Professor at the ICAI School of Engineering, is certain that the futures of Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy lie outside the eurozone. He also believes that the countries remaining in the eurozone will not be very happy without their breakaway partners. Exit from the eurozone would mean a default for Spain, which is unacceptable for French and German banks that hold up to half of Madrid’s €900 billion foreign debt. These banks are interested in returning the money, whatever the cost for Spaniards. The professor believes that leaving the eurozone does not necessarily mean leaving the EU. “Nobody would chase Spain out of the EU,” he says. Dr. Manuel Balmaseda believes that the eurozone crisis is not just caused by governmental overspending. “The origin of the problem is the euro, the lack of competitiveness that the euro brought to Spain”. Spain is following the path of Greece with a two-year delay, believes the professor, because more austerity measures and further cuts of public spending are only pushing countries like Greece and Spain deeper into recession.


Bailed Kyle Thain and James Harris return from Spain

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Two men from Essex accused of attempted murder in Spain have returned to England. Kyle Thain, 24, and James Harris, 29, had been in Spain for the past seven months after being accused of attacking two men in an Alicante bar in July 2011. The pair, both from Southend, were held in a Spanish prison for four months without charge. They have now been allowed to return to England on strict bail conditions. Mr Harris returned to the UK on Tuesday and his friend Mr Thain arrived at Stansted Airport on Wednesday evening. New lawyer As part of the conditions of their return to the UK, both men must sign in at the Spanish consulate in London twice a month. Speaking before her son Mr Thain's arrival, Sharon Harris, said: "I am so excited and nervous at the same time. "I still can't believe it. I won't be happy until I've got my arms around him at the airport." Both men have protested their innocence and have said they can prove they were elsewhere at the time of the attack. They were released from jail in November and given their passports back after each paid £6,000 in bail, but were told they could not leave the country. A new lawyer has now negotiated their return home. Pablo Sebastian, a Spanish lawyer working in Alicante with offices in Hadleigh in Essex, has been helping the boys' families secure their release. "We are very relieved to have them home," he said. "It is an improvement because they are back with their friends, family and at their jobs." 'Lives disrupted' Mr Sebastian said the men's "impeccable behaviour" while on bail in Spain had persuaded the Spanish judge to allow them back to the UK. It is thought the men's families have paid about £25,000 to cover travel, accommodation and legal costs since the pair were arrested. The men must now wait to hear if they must return to Spain for a trial. Richard Howitt, MEP for the East of England, is now calling for a change in European law to ensure minimum standards of justice across all member states. "The idea they have been several months in prison, outside the country and suffered such a huge financial loss is unacceptable," he said. "If we had a system whereby you respect and uphold each other's system of justice, then Kyle and James could have come home seven months ago. "But their lives have been totally disrupted, as have their families', which is why we need better standards of judicial co-operation at European level."


Mercadona Rocked As Own Label Linked To Canine Deaths

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Mercadona is in the middle of a public relations disaster after its ‘Compy’ own label dog food brand was linked to the deaths of several pets across Spain, after having caused kidney failure in the animals. . The deaths were initially recorded by pet owners in Andalucia, Murcia and Alicante, but new reports have claimed that similar cases have been found along the Costa del Sol. Several pet owners insisted that the deaths were caused after their pets ate the own label product, and following intense pressure, Mercadona has removed two variants of the ‘Compy’ range from select stores. The chain said it is now studying whether there indeed is a connection between the product and the deaths. It would not comment on whether the problem was caused by a recent shift in packaging of the product from tins to cartons. Mercadona added: “At this stage we have only removed the product as a precaution and we are waiting for the results of the analysis. We do not know with any certainty if the food is to blame”.


Blues legend Gary Moore died after drink binge

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ROCK legend Gary Moore died after bingeing on enough alcohol to put him nearly eight times over the drink-drive limit, tests in Spain have revealed. The guitar ace (58) suffered a heart attack brought on by the massive amount of alcohol that he knocked back at the start of a sunshine holiday in Spain's Costa del Sol, the studies showed. No traces of any illegal drugs were found in his body. But he had 380mg of alcohol per decilitre of blood in his system, which is more than 30mg the amount associated with fatalities. And it was just short of the 416mg that Amy Winehouse had in her body when she died. Tests revealed that dad-of-three Mr Moore, found dead in bed at a luxury hotel on February 6 last year, had abused alcohol for years. Former Thin Lizzy guitarist Mr Moore died at the Kempinski Resort Hotel in Estepona hours after starting a six-day holiday with his new partner.


Britain’s biggest international criminals has walked free from court despite been accused of attempting to smuggle £80 million worth of cocaine into the U.K.

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A man who was named one of the Britain’s biggest international criminals has walked free from court despite been accused of attempting to smuggle £80 million worth of cocaine into the U.K.

Jamie Dempsey, 33, was suspected of plotting to flood London and the south-east with 299kg (660lb) of high-purity cocaine in 2009.

He appeared on a ‘most wanted’ list of crooks hiding in the Costa Del Sol - nicknamed ‘Costa Del Crime’ - and even featured on BBC’s Crimewatch programme.

Freed: Jamie Dempsey, centre, leaves court with his friends and family after being acquitted of his involvement in an £80m euro cocaine empire

Freed: Jamie Dempsey, centre, leaves court with his friends and family after being acquitted of his involvement in an £80m euro cocaine empire

Speaking outside of court after being cleared of any wrongdoing, Dempsey said: 'I’m just relieved the nightmare is over.

'I couldn’t be further from being a criminal - I’m just a penniless plumber from Essex.




'I was in Marbella at my parent’s house when I was arrested - the police simply got the wrong man, it was a case of mistaken identity but I don’t want to say any more.

'My face has been all over the TV and the newspapers, my friends and family have been put through hell.h

'I just want to have a good meal and get on with my life.'

Arrested: Dempsey was cuffed in Benhavis, a mountain village near Marbella in Spain in a police operation that cost £1m

Hiding place: Dempsey was cuffed in Benhavis, a mountain village near Marbella in Spain in a police operation that cost £1m

A two-year investigation, costing over £1million pounds, was launched to track Dempsey who was believed to be evading capture in Spain.

Officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) finally arrested him with the help of the Spanish police in Benhavis, Marbella, last May following a tip-off from the public.

His capture was hailed as a 'great result' but on Monday he was dramatically cleared of conspiracy to supply cocaine after a four-week trial.

Last May police named Dempsey as a suspected drug lord living the high life in the Costa Del Sol.

But a jury of five men and four women took nine-and-a-half hours to find him not guilty.

Judge Michael Pert ordered the court to be cleared after Dempsey’s family erupted into cheers after the verdict was read out. 

Fernando Hurtado was sentenced to 28 years in jail at Leicester Crown Court
John Esqulant was sentenced to 28 years in jail at Leicester Crown

Jailed: Fernando Hurtado, left, and John Esqulant, right, were both sentenced to 28 years behind bars

Speaking outside Leicester Crown Court his sister Natalie Dempsey, 24, said: 'We are just happy he’s coming home.

'Our family has been torn apart because of this. We’re going to give him a proper Essex home coming.

'The champagne will be flowing in Chigwell when he comes home. He doesn’t normally drink or smoke but he’ll want to party hard after all this.

'The police got the wrong man but they didn’t care. They just wanted to arrest someone in the Costa Del Sol and send them down.'

Last year three people arrested in the same police ‘sting’ operation as Dempsey were jailed for a total of 55 years.

Taxi driver John Esqulant and Colombian Fernando Hurtado were each jailed for 23 years at the same court after they were convicted of conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Part-time model and promising footballer Frank Stedman was jailed for nine years after admitting the same offence.

The sting operation began in March 2009 when officers posed as criminals who could arrange delivery of the drugs.

Three Soca agents met 41-year-old Hurtado, from Woking, Surrey, at a site in Waltham Abbey, Essex, to organise the delivery.

Two weeks later, Stedman, 26, of North Weald, Essex, paid the officers £320,800 in cash as part-payment for the drugs.

Shortly after the handover in April, armed officers stopped the van containing the Class A drug near an industrial estate in Markfield, Leics.

Esqulant, 52, of Theydon Bois, Essex, and Hurtado were arrested the same day while Stedman was brought in as he stepped off a flight at Heathrow airport in June 2010.


Spanish government will try and secure the 'gold on the Rock'

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With the Odyssey gold back in Spain, the Spanish keep referring to more gold that remained in Gibraltar. It is being reported in Spain that the Spanish government will try and secure the 'gold on the Rock' through what they term a European order. They say that although Gibraltar likes to play a dual role, it is in fact part of the UK and thus Madrid is knocking on the UK's door to get them to urge Gibraltar to hand over the gold. Bilateral talks are said to be taking place. It is said that there are 59 artefacts still in Gibraltar, apparently stored by Odyssey. A Spanish heritage official was critical of the way the Oddysey gold left for the USA via Gibraltar,which is a joint sovereignty airport, adding that it was far from being dignified. This happened in 2007, a year after the signing of the Cordoba Agreement. The British Embassy in Madrid has confirmed that it is in touch with the Spanish foeign ministry, saying it was not clear if part of the consignment was in Gibraltar. Two military planes laden with 17 tons of silver and gold coins from a Spanish warship that sank during a 1804 gunbattle with the British is now back in Spain. It followed a 5-year legal battle between the Spanish and the American Odyssey company. On Thursday the Peruvian government made an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to block transfer of the treasure to give it more time to lodge its claim as the rightful owner of the gold. Peru says the gold and silver was mined, refined and minted in that country, which at the time was part of the Spanish empire. But the appeal obviously arrived too late, as the gold was flown to Madrid by the two Spanish military aircraft.


Tarragona village wants to grow marihuana to get out of the recession

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village in Tarragona has come up with a way to beat the recession. They propose to plant marihuana. A smokers’ club in the village of Rasquera and say the plantation would create jobs. They say they will not sell it, rather it will be for the use of the club members and also for ‘therapeutic ends’. A cannabis association in Barcelona that uses the drug for therapeutic reasons has offered to pay 36,000 € to the club and sign a deal with the Town Hall, and then promises to pay 550,000 € a year each July for the land rental, legal and judicial costs, and security which make up the project, noting the Town Hall won’t have to pay a penny. For now the local Town Hall is to hold a meeting and vote on Wednesday to decide on what to do; they have requested a report to see if the idea is legal or not. The Mayor of Rasquera, Bernat Pellisa, told the EFE news agency that they are studying the proposal which he said was ‘developed and an opportunity, and certainly not frivolous’. There are about 1,000 inhabitants in the village, and while they admit they could never have imagined it, the crisis is such they say they are prepared to grow whatever is needed.


Renounce your British Citizenship?

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Britain ignores its citizens who live abroad. James Preston, a businessman in Spain angrily declares he will renounce his British citizenship. Yet he feels sick at feeling forced to do so. Why does he do it? He is denied representation at Westminster (the vote!) because he has lived outside of Britain for more than 15 years. He has fought before the High Court his demand to be represented as a Citizen in the British seat of power – the Parliament at Westminster. His case and his appeal have been rejected. James Preston resents having the door slammed in his face. Britain denies him the basic democratic right of representation. He writes “We have concluded, therefore, that the contract between the State and my wife and I – the citizens – has been broken. We moved to Spain, an EU country, to represent British interests and find work, and not continue to claim unemployment benefit.” James Preston in his despair, intends to renounce his British citizenship and take out Spanish citizenship. Britain, in this, acts as a dictator State which regards the citizen abroad as ‘subjects’ and not as free people with democratic rights. The Government of Britain will not listen to the citizens abroad but still expects their obedience to the laws of Britain. These are strong words but are they not true? James Preston, is undoubtedly proud of his British (English) Ancestry which he can trace back for over 400 years. He left Britain in 1995. He was then unemployed but found work with a British company in Madrid, and has worked for British companies ever since. He stills considers his soul is British, but in Spain you cannot hold dual citizenship. Because Britain will not grant him representation in Parliament he therefore feels that he has no alternative but to turn his back on Britain. But still the clammy mechanical claw of British bureaucracy might well hold claim on his estate at his death. British Tax Law could still claim to his dying day that he is ‘domiciled in Britain’, because it says he will retain his British domicile of birth! You may think this outrageous and you are right to think so. It is difficult to cut yourself loose from the British State if you are born British. The fact that his children are educated in Britain, and extraordinarily, the very fact that he has taken a case before the High Court in London to claim the right to vote displays in the eyes of the Revenue his ‘attachment’ to Britain. It is incredible but true that for these reasons the estate he leaves could well be subject to taxation by the British State, even though he would die a Spanish citizen. Mr. Preston also tells me that his children do not have full British Citizenship but are considered as 'Spanish of British descent' because they were born in Spain. If they had been born in the UK they would be fully British. If they then marry British spouses and have children born outside of Britain, his grandchildren would not be British citizens at all. But if they were born in the UK they would be British. It is a crazy stupid mixed up world. It is the last straw that, after having been insultingly refused the right to Representation, Britain could still claim a pound (£) of ‘flesh’. It beggars belief that Britain, claiming to lead the world in Democracy so treats its own citizens who dare to live abroad. It cannot desire, can it, that every British Citizen living abroad should renounce their citizenship? Should not Britain be proud of us who live abroad? To our neighbours we are the image of Britain. Why are we ignored by our own country? We want to be ambassadors for Britain, but Britain does not want us – except perhaps our money.


Prison and no bail for Moroccan man who planned to poison tourist complexes in Spain

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37 year old Moroccan man who was arrested in La Línea de la Concepción because of alleged links to Al Qaeda has been ordered to prison without bail. Police now believe that Abdellatif Aoulad Chilba, who is married to a Spanish woman, was planning to poison the water in tourist complexes in the area. It has been revealed that a phone call he made to his wife, who lives in Girona, on the 12th of this month, sounded as if it was a goodbye. National Court judge, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, has charged him with belonging to a terrorist organisation and for conspiracy to carry out a terrorist act. The Moroccan had expressed his wish to carry out such an attack against the ‘infidels’ in several internet forums which were also being used to recruit new members for different Islamic cells. It was on one such forum that he asked for the formula for a mortal venom. One person responded with how to produce a botulism toxin.


Spain and Morocco to establish joint police stations in Tangiers and Algeciras

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Spain and Morocco have agreed to open joint commissioners’ offices in Tangiers and Algeciras from May. The interior ministers from both countries gave the announcement on Tuesday in Rabat. Jorge Fernández Díaz and his Moroccan counterpart, Mohand Lanser, did little detail about the composition of these ‘centres of police cooperation’. Morocco is the first country outside the EU with which Spain has come to such an arrangement. There are already similar offices established with France and Portugal. The talks between the interior ministers today centred on illegal immigration, organised crime and drug trafficking. Fernández Díaz underlined the ‘support’ of the Spanish Government for the process of ‘political and democratic reforms which are being brought in by King Mohamed VI’ in Morocco, and described them as ‘an example for the Arab world and many other countries’.


Four members of 'Anonymous' arrested in Spain

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National Police has arrested four members of the Anonymous collective in Spain as part of an international operation against cyber-crime. Two of them are currently in prison thought to be behind DDos attacks, and the other two have been released. They are allegedly linked to attacks on the UPyD webpage, as well as for revealing personal data from the GEOS security personnel. A man known as ‘Thunder’ or ‘Pacotron’ was F.J.B.D. arrested in Málaga, J.M.L.G. known as ‘Troy’ was arrested in Madrid, J.I.P.S was also arrested in Madrid with a 16 year old close collaborator, J.M.L.G. thought to be part of the international hacking group known as ‘Sector 404’. 25 computers have been impounded along with hard discs and other storage devices, following four searches in Spain and these are now being analysed. The case has resulted in two servers being blocked in Bulgaria and the Czech Republic and has developed with the help of Interpol.


Search for a lorry driver after man and his niece are found dead in Zafra

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The Guardia Civil are searching for a lorry driver following a double homicide in Zafra, which they consider was the settling of scores. The family of the man shot dead, a businessman Manuel Borallo, along with his niece, Verónica Gordillo, say that the crime could have been committed by a lorry driver from Algeciras whose whereabouts are now unknown. It’s thought however that he could have been in Zafra when the crime was committed in an industrial estate on Monday. The dead businessman had denounced the lorry driver to the Guardia Civil previously for using his company’s name without permission and also for using lorries with no ITV test or insurance. It seems the lorry driver had travelled to Zafra on Monday to ask for explanations. The only thing the family know is they were talking by phone with the niece, Veronica, when some bangs were heard and the line went dead. They say the last thing she said was she had to go because the man had come to see the papers. An autopsy is being carried out on the two bodies in the Anatomic Forensic Institute in Badajoz.


Son-in-law of King Juan Carlos of Spain admits he defied orders in corruption trial

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The Duke of Palma, the husband of the King's youngest daughter Cristina, appeared in court in Majorca over the weekend, subpoenaed to give evidence in a case that has turned the spotlight on Spain's royal family. The Duke, a former Olympic handball medallist who received the title when he married in 1997, has stirred latent antimonarchist sentiments in Spain with the suggestion that he used his royal influence to feather his own nest. The Duke, 44, is implicated in a case that alleges the embezzlement of public funds through the Noos Institute, a non-profit organisation that arranged sporting and cultural events for the regional governments of Valencia and the Balearics, and which the Duke was chairman of between 2002 to 2006. Prosecutors believe up to 5.8 million euros could have misappropriated and have uncovered evidence of funds being squirrelled away to offshore accounts in Belize, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom. Under intense questioning the Duke conceded the King had ordered him to stand down as chairman of the Noos Institute in 2006, shortly after questions were raised over a 1.2 million euro (£1m) contract from the Balearic government.


A glamorous French politician is set to become France’s first ever ‘MP for Britain’ to represent more than 100,000 Gallic expats living in the UK.

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A glamorous French politician is set to become France’s first ever ‘MP for Britain’ to represent more than 100,000 Gallic expats living in the UK.

Emmanuelle Savarit, 39, is leading the race to be elected to France’s newest overseas constituency - based in London’s well-heeled Kensington.

The member of Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative UMP party is the clear frontrunner among five hopefuls vying for the seat of northern Europe.

Hopeful: Emmanuelle Savarit, 39, is leading the race to be elected to France¿s newest overseas constituency - based in London¿s well-heeled Kensington

Hopeful: Emmanuelle Savarit, 39, is leading the race to be elected to France's newest overseas constituency - based in London's well-heeled Kensington

The radical plans to create 11 foreign constituencies to represent French abroad were approved by the Paris parliament three years ago.



Britain is part of the northern Europe constituency, which also includes the Irish Republic, Scandinavia and the Baltic states.

But within the new seat, 113,655 French voters are registered in the UK, compared with 27,076 in all the other countries put together.

Divorced mother-of-two Ms Savarit’s main rival is equally glamorous 36-year-old socialist Axelle Lemaire, a London-based lawyer.

Competition: Divorced mother-of-two Ms Savarit¿s main rival is 36-year-old socialist Axelle Lemaire, a London-based lawyer

Competition: Divorced mother-of-two Ms Savarit's main rival is 36-year-old socialist Axelle Lemaire, a London-based lawyer

But the French media predict the right-winger’s victory will be ensured by wealthy expats based mainly in west London when the first election takes place in June.

Ms Savarit, who has a doctorate in Psychology, describes herself
on her campaign website as ‘a tough cookie’, but adds: 'That’s not necessarily a fault when you’re in politics.'

The new foreign constituencies are the brainchild of former French interior affairs minister Alain Marlaix.

Vital: The importance of the French expat vote was highlighted when President Sarkozy came to London to give a speech to thousands of French voters ahead of his 2007 election campaign

Vital: The importance of the French expat vote was highlighted when President Sarkozy came to London to give a speech to thousands of French voters ahead of his 2007 election campaign

He said: 'This is the first time in any country in the world that something like this had been done.

'The new overseas MPs will have identical status to any other MP based in France, and vote in parliament in Paris.

'They will be elected in the same way and speak for the French expatriates they represent.'

Government advisor Herve Fabre-Aubrespy, who is overseeing the new constituencies, said: 'It is a challenge for us, because nothing similar has ever been done anywhere.

'No one has carved the world up into constituencies in this way.'

The new constituencies are part of a larger parliamentary shake-up, with seats being merged or enlarged across France so that the total number of 577 MPs still remains the same.

The importance of the French expat vote was highlighted when President Sarkozy came to London to give a speech to thousands of French voters ahead of his 2007 election campaign.

But French socialists have claimed the new overseas seats are ‘closet gerrymandering’ - where constituencies are created to the benefit of the ruling party.

A socialists’ spokesman said: 'Studies show French people living abroad are more likely to vote for a centre-right party than a left wing one.
'This is being proposed as something that is good for French expatriates, but in fact it is just a way for the government to give itself another 11 safe seats.'

Six of the 11 new constituencies will be in Europe, but others are based in Canada and the US, central and South America, the Middle East, Arica and Asia, representing more than million French people living abroad.


ENVELOPES full of cash, drug habits funded by EU grants and police taking payments to legalise prostitutes – you name it, it has happened in Spain.

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 Add to those a snail-paced justice system and, a law society in Malaga that fails to scrutinize bent lawyers, and things start to look distinctly cloudy. Consider too that last week Spain’s top anti-corruption lawyer, Baltasar Garzon, was suspended from his post for illegally tapping the phones of lawyers, and most will come to the same conclusion. “Yes, corruption is certainly endemic in Spain,” says Gwilym Rhys-Jones, an Estepona-based financial expert. “Sadly there is a tradition of it and it became institutionalised since the late 1980s as nobody was dealing with it from the top down.” There is certainly nowhere better to highlight the problem than here on the Costa del Sol, where in Marbella for over two decades you could only get anything done if you were prepared to pay for it. Under the current Malaya corruption trial, centred around Marbella Town Hall, which has been going for over a year. Over a hundred councillors, mayors, businessmen and civil servants are currently on trial for taking backhanders totalling up to 2.4 billion euros. And sadly, the same state of affairs was taking place at hundreds of town halls around the country, with a central government apparently prepared to turn a blind eye. It led to hotels and golf courses being built in national parks, developments installed in river flood plains and hundreds of thousands of illegal – and unsellable – homes around the country. It comes as no surprise then that Transparency International has listed Spain as more corrupt than Uruguay, Chile and Qatar, and almost on a par with of Botswana – quite a feat for the fourth richest nation in the European Union. And while some might like to point the finger at the right or the left, the range of cases shows that bending the rules for personal gain goes right across the spectrum. The Conservative PP party has often been in the spotlight – most recently thanks to the Gurtel case, in Valencia – but the PSOE socialist party, particularly with the ERE pension scandal in Andalucia, certainly takes some beating. Even the royal family may have dipped its toes in the murky waters, with King Juan Carlos’ son-in-law about to stand trial for a misuse of public funds and embezzlement. So where did it all begin? Franco regarded it as the ‘necessary lubrication for the system’, according to historian Stanley Payne. While central government appears to be largely free of endemic corruption, in the regions it is quite a different story. In Andalucia, for example, UGT trade union leader Manuel Pastrana believes as many as 75 per cent of the region’s town halls are corrupt. This is partly down to the fact that much of Spain’s corruption is linked to illegal planning, which is said to be more profitable than drug dealing – mainly because tourism is the biggest earner on the Costa del Sol. It’s a simple tale, and sadly all too common. Developers purchase non-urban, rural land for knock-down prices, then pay corrupt town hall mayors to reclassify the land as available to develop. This leaves the developers to build whatever they like – and it is arrangements like this that explain the illegal 411-bedroom Algarrobico hotel in Almeria’s Cabo de Gata natural park – which will thankfully be demolished any day now. The question is, why are so many mayors and councillors tempted to the dark side, considering the possible environmental and criminal consequences? Aside from describing Spain as having the ‘slowest justice system in the known world’, investigator Rhys-Jones argues that it is human nature to be tempted by money once it’s dangled in front of you. “When people see a massive amount of money, they can’t help but steal it. It’s human nature,” he says, using the unscrupulous former Marbella mayor Jesus Gil as his example. Jesus Gil was described as the bad apple that spoilt Marbella’s bunch “Gil was a crook, but he started out with good intentions. Marbella was a mess in the 1980s. Property wasn’t selling. It was a dump filled with drugs and hookers. So Gil started a political party, the GAL, to try and sort it out.” But this apparent do-gooder turned resident evil, with many describing Gil – who was convicted in 2002 – as being the bad apple that spoiled Marbella’s bunch. Either way his legacy was a disaster and has led to the following three mayors – as well as his main cohort, planning boss Juan Antonio Roca, who became the svengali of the operation – all facing prison. Much of the corruption comes down to backgrounds and a lack of education, believes Marbella-based lawyer Antonio Flores. “A lot of mayors have previously had rural-based jobs, without the ability to make any money,” he explains. “The moment they have responsibility, the temptation to make money becomes too great. After four years in power, they’ll often have to go back to their tractors,” he says. A classic example of a rags-to-riches mayor is Julian Munoz, also heavily implicated in the Malaya case, who worked as a waiter before running Marbella Town Hall in 2002. Roca, too, had been on the dole before going on to pilfer 30 million euros. Planning boss Juan Antonio Roca, the main man in the Malaya case Flores compares town hall councillors with more prominent politicians in central government who are less reliant on get-rich-quick methods: “It’s not so difficult to get another job when you’re in a higher political position,” he says. The good news is that most commentators agree that corruption in Spain is on its way out. “The Malaya case was where the mentality changed,” estimates Flores. “It was a turning point for corruption and the Marbella run by thugs completely collapsed when they were all arrested. “As Spain becomes more civilised, we are slowly getting rid of corruption,” he continues. “But it has definitely not gone completely,” argues Rhys Jones. “That will take quite a few more decades.” As for shamed Judge Garzon, opinion remains firmly divided on whether he too was a man who let power corrupt him… or whether he has been silenced by a country whose corruption will be harder to iron out than some may hope. Big cases Malaya Planning chief Juan Antonio Roca is at the heart of this 2.4 billion euro scandal in Marbella. The unelected Roca operated a cash-for-permissions scheme, which saw over 18,000 homes built illegally. Gurtel Businessman Francisco Correa gave money to PP bosses in Valencia in return for lucrative contracts with the regional government. ERE The Junta is being investigated in a 647m euro retirement scandal, where posts were created in non-existent companies in order to defraud public funds. Ballena Blanca One of the largest money laundering cases in Europe, with 21 people accused of investing proceeds from drug trafficking and prostitution in property via over a thousand companies.


EU clampdown on unregulated financial advisers in Spain

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The European Commission is to consider setting up an ombudsman to help expat victims reclaim against unregistered financial firms. It comes after a local pressure group, that represents over 1,000 victims, sent a dossier of information to Brussels. The Costa del Sol Action Group demanded action against the advisers who, it claims, have lost their clients over €120 million (£102 million). “It is good news as something has to be done about this bunch of rogues,” said group founder David Klein. “The current Spanish regulatory system is totally inadequate and ineffective. Dealing with the authorities is a constant game of ping-pong. Anyone can come to Spain and be a financial adviser; they could have been selling fish before they came here for all anyone knows." This situation could soon be coming to an end, after the European Commission confirmed it was to begin "a preliminary investigation of the problem". Foreign Office plans evacuation of expats 18 Dec 2011 It has asked for more information and the action group has called on all victims to write to the European Parliament outlining their experience. “This problem is causing untold stress and heartache in the expatriate community and it cannot be allowed to continue,” explained Klein. The European Commission is to study how investors would be able to make an official complaint against Independent Financial Advisers (IFAs). At present, there is no effective means for victims to make a complaint against product providers who work with unregistered IFAs. The group was also highly critical of the local media for its willingness to accept adverts from unregulated financial firms in a bid to maximise advertising revenue. To highlight the problem, the group included testimonials by members who were allegedly defrauded by one specialist investment brokerage, which it claims is "not regulated or registered". It said the company was able to trade, "collecting unsuspecting clients who are soon relieved of their money". One Costa del Sol-based financial adviser, Richard Alexander, said he was pleased with the EU’s response. “Bring on the review,” he said. “I have seen too many sad stories of people being turned over, badly advised or grossly over-charged by unregulated independent financial advisors in Spain. "It is entirely possible to provide professional, quality advice without the client losing out.”


Poor men and lonely wealthy women

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I see so many lonely women out here in the world today. Of course, there are lonely guys as well. But, in my opinion men react and respond differently to their problems. We almost never actually admit that we are alone, except when our self-esteem is compromised. We just go with the flow. But for women, it is a totally different story. “I am so alone,” was what she would say. I hear this all the time from the opposite sex. Why is this so in the modern-day world? Are we men not doing our jobs?   This brings me to the recent lonely end of soul-siren Whitney Houston and UK Amy Winehouse in 2011 respectively, whose public battles with drugs and alcohol often overshadowed their music success. May their musical souls rest in peace! These are glaring examples of lonely women. It is an open secret that Whitney had been a ‘druggy’ for years, which had become more pronounced after her tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, whom she divorced before her death. Rumours had it that Amy was killed by lack of love, not a drug addiction. I think this is probably true. Another example is that of Lady Gaga, who recently admitted in an interview, “Yes I’m lonely, but I’m married to my loneliness.” It is quite interesting to know so much about her. She has said loneliness is the only thing she loves the most. Nevertheless, I wish her good luck! Now, you may wonder what the situation is Namibia?  One of the most well-known examples of this ‘loneliness phenomenon’ is the infamous middle finger gesture employed by a well-known personality in Namibia’s showbiz last year.    Was that a sign of loneliness?  Well, without risking my poor miserable life I’ll leave that to the reader to figure out. Today, with the advent of equal opportunities and interventions, our ladies in the ‘Land of the Brave’ have made great strides in business, politics, TIPEEG, BEE, Namdeb, highly skilled professions and the list goes on, which makes them wealthy but ‘lonely.’ You will agree with me that successful women are multiplying in Namibia, but sadly, success has been unsettling for some as they are struggling to keep their ‘unemployed’ boyfriends or husbands, who feel that they can’t compromise on their self-esteem and would leave relationships in which they can’t cope with the rich lifestyle of their girlfriends or women – and therefore rendering many women lonely. I know many of them. Rich women have difficulties managing fulfilling relationships and therefore end up being lonely. My advice to these lonely Eves is simple; do not pride yourself in intimidation, aggression and power. No man will accept to be controlled by a wife just because he is poor. Instead, a rich wife must remain strong but be humble and respect her husband to make him stronger. No matter how much wealth a woman can attain, she will still long for a person she can share her life with; not to mention her wealth with. Although money can be friendly, rich women still need someone who will be there for them and just simply love them. We do not want a Whitney or Amy Winehouse situation to play off in our country or do we?. Until then, Eewa!


Spain's banking sector set to shrink to about 10 lenders

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This year, Spain’s banking sector looks set to shrink to about 10 lenders from more than 40 before the economic crisis, as the government forces banks to recognise steep losses from a housing crash. Small and medium-sized banks will scramble to join forces to meet capital requirements implicit in a new law demanding lenders write down up to 80 per cent of the book value of real estate assets on their balance sheets.  Click here for Cloud Computing     Also Read   Related Stories News Now - 24-hr deadline for Kingfisher to submit revised schedule - Kingfisher assures to restore normal schedule in 5-7 days - Indian banks eye assets of European counterparts - It is time to take money off the table: Jim Walker - Swiss solicits tourists from India amidst EU crisis - Abheek Barua & Shivom Chakravarti: Risk-on in a sweet spot Particular focus would rest on the country’s fourth-largest bank by market value, Bankia. Fears persist over its ability to fund losses from its heavy exposure to the property sector. Only a handful of banks — international leaders Santander and BBVA, domestic lender CaixaBank and Basque Country savings bank Kutxa — are considered strong enough to remain independent and cover capital holes with their own profits. Bankia has insisted it does not plan a link-up with Barcelona-based counterpart CaixaBank, but market sources say it would be hard for the bank to go it alone. "It’s true there were overtures towards CaixaBank, but that has gone cold. It seems CaixaBank is the only one interested in Bankia. BBVA and Santander do not seem up for it," said one banking source. Another expressed doubt Bankia could deal alone, with Euro 3 billion of capital needs with annual net operating profits of Euro 1.67 billion and with its parent company BFA still owing Euro 4.1 billion of state loans given out last year. "The numbers simply don’t add up," the second banking source said. If Bankia opts for a tie-up, it could win more time to write down losses related to real estate. The government has given banks one year to write down losses, but would extend it to two years for lenders involved in a merger process.


Juan Antonio Roca has face to face showdown in court with Marisol Yagüe

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A face to face declaration in the Malaya case in Málaga on Wednesday brought sparks between the ex Marbella Town Hall real estate assessor, Juan Antonio Roca, and the ex Mayor of Marbella, Marisol Yagüe. Roca said to Yagüe – ‘Darling, I deeply lament disagreeing, but I did give you money’. To that Yagüe said ‘You are looking for a way out of jail’. The conversation between the two came after she denied to the prosecutor that she had received envelopes, in the form of backhanders, from Roca. Judge José Godino then ordered a face to face ‘careo’ between the two which lasted just over a minute. ‘When did I ask you for money, Juan Antonio?’ she spat ‘I paid you always on the orders of Jesús Gil’, he replied, adding that the payment was for ‘maintaining cohesion’ in the three way government of which she was Mayor. The payments to Yagüe and the rest of the councillors took place between January 2004 and 2006, according to Roca’s own notes, which he has collaborated repeatedly in court. He says the ex Mayor received 1.8 million €. Yagüe told the court that Roca knows she loves him a lot, and that she wants him to get out of jail, ‘but it is not as he says’, she said, looking directly into his eye and grabbing his forearm. She also denied that he had supplied funds for the purchase of a luxury flat in Madrid in the Argüelles district. She faces 20 years in prison and a 3.8 million € fine in the case on charge of bribery, perversion of the course of justice, fraud and the misuse of public funds. The questioning continues on March 5.


Libyan land being freed for development in Marbella

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A large real estate project which the Libyan Arab Foreign Bank wanted to place in Marbella is back on the road. The project was frozen because of the death of Muamar El Gaddafi, but now the lawyers for the development say it is active again. The lawyer Ignacio Pérez de Vargas said the plans are for 1,915 homes, a golf course and a congress hall to be built in La Resinera, the finca owned by the Libyan in Benahavís which stretches to 6,900 hectares across the municipalities of Benahavis, Estepona, Pujerra and Júzcar. Part of this is in the Sierra de las Nieves, declared a Biosphere Reserve, but the PGOU urban plans shows 500 hectares which can be built on in Benahavís. Construction could start as early as December. The Spanish Government blocked all the assets owned by the Libyan Government in Spain, or related to Gadaffi, when the fighting started in Libya. There is another plot in Nerja also owned, as nearly all the Libyan assets, by the Libyan Foreign Bank. Now the politicians and ambassadors of the two countries have been talking, and the Libyan Ambassador commented ‘Soon we will know what is going to happen to our properties in Spain. We have asked for meetings to find out what we can do with them. Now we will try to complete the arrangements so the projects we initially had in mind can go ahead.


Ex Marbella Mayor, Isabel García Marcos, found guilty of corruption

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The ex Mayor of Marbella, Isabel García Marcos, has been handed down her first conviction for real estate corruption. Penal Court 10 in Málaga fined her 3,600 € and banned her from holding public office for ten years. Three other ex councillors were given the same sentence, José Jaén and Carmen Revilla among them, and another 11 ex-councillors were given a year’s prison sentence and a ten year ban. These include Julián Muñoz, Rafael González and Marisa Alcalá. José Luis Fernández Garrosa, Alberto García Muñoz and Pedro Reñones were all given nine month prison sentences and a nine month ban from office. The case relates to April 2002 and a licence for the construction of 20 luxury villas on a plot of land in Trapiche.


Zumba Fitness is the only Latin-inspired dance-fitness program that blends red-hot international music

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Zumba Fitness is the only Latin-inspired dance-fitness program that blends red-hot international music, created by Grammy Award-winning producers, and contagious steps to form a "fitness-party" that is downright addictive. Since its inception in 2001, the Zumba program has grown to become the world's largest – and most successful – dance-fitness program with more than 12 million people of all shapes, sizes and ages taking weekly Zumba classes in over 110,000 locations across more than 125 countries.


Zumba's Latin rhythms on the move in the fitness world

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On a rooftop parking lot, with temperatures in the chilly low 50s, a crowd of all ages shimmied and shook, sweated and smiled as DJ Francis played an eclectic mix of dance music. But this wasn't just another wild South Florida party. It was a special Zumba class for charity, led last month by the creator of the global craze, Alberto "Beto" Perez. The charismatic Colombian in cargo pants — who has become a rock star in the fitness world — climbed onto the roof of a Chevy minivan that doubled as a stage. He demonstrated salsa steps, the merengue march and many other Latin-inspired dance moves — all while also cuing the drummer and the bongo player. For an hour, 75 of his adoring fans — and even the minivan — moved to the beat. "Everybody loves it; everybody has fun," Perez said while posing for pictures with his Zumba faithful, some of whom had traveled from as far as Canada. Two days later, Perez flew to New York to appear on the TV morning show "Live! with Kelly." "You must be so rich by now," host Kelly Ripa gushed to Perez, 41. Perez's Zumba classes, with the motto "Ditch the Workout, Join the Party," were strictly a South Florida phenomenon 10 years ago. Today, Zumba Fitness has become the largest branded fitness program in the world, with about 12 million people taking Zumba classes weekly at 110,000 locations in at least 125 countries, according to company spokeswoman Allison Robins. The private company won't reveal information about the company's finances or its net worth. But at a time when most of the world is struggling economically, Zumba Fitness' empire appears to be flourishing. It is doing so on the strength of a growing army of certified instructors who spread the Zumba gospel to such distant outposts as Iceland, Papua New Guinea, Nepal and even Afghanistan — at the Kabul Community Center. Many fitness crazes have come and gone. Staying power is tough in the ever-evolving fitness industry. John Figarelli, founder of the National Fitness Hall of Fame Museum and author of "The History of Fitness: Fads, Gimmicks and Gadgets," said: "I think the owners of Zumba did a great job of getting it going from a business standpoint." Zumba Fitness does not charge gyms to carry its classes. Instead, it trains instructors and gives them the license and use of the trademark if they join the Zumba Instructor Network. "We're helping the instructors to become entrepreneurs and make a living out of it," said company co-founder Alberto Aghion. Exercise as a business It's a sound strategy, said Figarelli, whose book covers 100 years of working out, from 1900 to 2000. "Most group-exercise instructors will just go with the next popular class. But if Zumba is your business, instructors will stay with that." Ensuring instructors are successful has become the company's main mission. "We have three people who all they do is call up gyms all day and try to find instructors employment," said company co-founder Alberto Perlman. The company has made Zumba instructors easy to find, with a worldwide listing that includes all of their network instructors' classes regularly updated on the company's website. Instructors also receive new music and choreography about every two months. The music department now creates music just for Zumba classes, with original songs that include "Zumbalicious," "Que Te Mueve" and "Caipirinha," which was a No. 1 song in Israel. Zumba Fitness makes its money on its instructors academy, instructors courses, monthly fees from instructors in its network and on all its brand merchandise. The company has built its own line of hip, colorful clothing and footwear, workout DVDs, two video games, original music and a lifestyle magazine, Z-Life. This was not the business model when Zumba Fitness was founded in Aventura, Fla., in 2001 by the "three Albertos" — creator Perez and boyhood friends Perlman and Aghion, both entrepreneurs in their mid-20s and natives of Colombia. The trio's original plan was simple: produce VHS workout tapes of Perez's popular South Florida classes to sell around the country on infomercials. An inspired ad-lib Perez fell in love with dancing at age 7 by watching a VHS tape of the 1978 movie "Grease," starring John Travolta. At age 16, he was teaching aerobics classes for $1 an hour. One day, he forgot his prepared music. All he had in his backpack was a cassette tape of merengue and salsa music he'd recorded off the radio. His morning class was full of moms who had dropped their kids off at school. "I can't say, 'Hey sorry, I forgot my music,' " Perez said. "I say to the people, 'I have a new class I prepared for a long time.' It was not true. I improvised for one hour." The moms loved the dancing exercise. Perez turned it into a regular class in Cali. He soon moved to the Colombian capital of Bogotá, where he continued those classes and became a choreographer for Sony Music and Shakira. In 1999, Perez came to the United States for the first time. He pounded the pavement on South Beach, going from gym to gym. Nobody was interested in this new dance exercise class by a guy who couldn't speak English. On his fourth trip to Miami he landed a job at the swanky Williams Island Spa in a development where several Colombians lived. Some had even taken classes with him in Bogotá. Within a year, Perez was in demand, teaching 22 classes all over South Florida. At the same time, Perlman and Aghion were looking for a new business venture after the dot-com bubble burst, bringing down their Internet company, Spydre Labs, an incubator for Internet startups related to Latin America. Enter Raquel Perlman. While Alberto Perlman was telling his mom about how badly he was feeling for laying off people, she was telling him about how happy she was taking Perez's classes, where were then called Rumbacize. "You should meet Beto and maybe start a gym together," she told her son. "He's the talk of Aventura." Perlman watched a class and was reminded of people having fun at a nightclub, but without the drinking and pickup lines. "Beto, have you heard of Billy Blanks' Tae Bo? Why don't we do VHS tapes and sell them on television?" Perlman said he told Perez. In August 2001, they and Aghion founded Zumba Fitness. To create a demonstration video to show investors, the three stayed up all night laying down boards to create a dance floor on the beach outside a Sunny Isles hotel. About 200 of Perez's students paid $20 each for the class, raising an additional $4,000. When the infomercial began running on TV, people rang the call center in Ohio to buy the videos, and a few also asked how to become Zumba instructors. Those callers were forwarded to Zumba's office — at Aghion's home. After a few 2 a.m. wakeups, Aghion realized this was another business opportunity. Zumba Fitness also has greatly benefited from Internet advertising and social media. Many people discovered Zumba via YouTube videos. Zumba Fitness started a Facebook page about a year ago and now has more than 3 million fans. Zumba is mentioned every 11 seconds in social-media platforms, Robins said. It's not clear yet if Zumba will have a long shelf life or be added to the long list of exercise fads, said Walter R. Thompson, professor of exercise science at Georgia State University. He'll watch to see how it fares over the next few years in a worldwide survey that ranks fitness trends. "I hope it stays around," he said. "It's motivating a lot of people to exercise."


Hospitalised, robbed, arrested – new TV series follows consular staff as they help Brits in distress

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How the staff of British Consulates in Spain help citizens in distress is to be highlighted in a new TV documentary series to be broadcast next month on the UK’s Channel 4.UK in Spain The new TV series, filmed last summer, reveals how consular staff come to the rescue of Britons who find themselves in trouble. From helping victims of crime to advising Brits arrested by the police, the series also follows consular staff as they visit holidaymakers who end up in hospital and meet expat residents to hear their property concerns. In a three part series, ‘Our Man In…’, provides unprecedented access to the work of British consular staff. It will be shown on the UK’s Channel 4 on Thursdays 1st, 8th and 15th March at 22.00 GMT (23.00 CET). The first programme features Mallorca and Ibiza, the second follows the team in Alicante and the third covers Tenerife and Barcelona. “The series shows the hard work and professionalism of our staff in helping British expats and holidaymakers as well as highlighting the serious issues that Brits can face abroad”, says Paul Rodwell, British Consul in Alicante. “Some of the less serious cases can be avoided and I would encourage people to read our travel advice and have a look at the information we have on our ukinspain website.” The series reveals the consequences of failing to prepare properly for a holiday. Even if you’re staying with friends and family, travelling without insurance could cost you many thousands of pounds if you’re injured abroad. “Losing your passport will cost you time and money”, says Paul Rodwell. “And without an EHIC health card, you’ll find it harder to get medical care. By taking a few simple precautions, you can avoid a dream holiday turning into a nightmare.” The programme in Alicante, about life on the costas, shows the pro-active face of the consulate, with staff seeking out Brits caught up in a forest fire, organising outreach events to hear residents’ property concerns, and working with local police to manage an invasion of Scottish football fans for a big game against Spain. On the party island of Ibiza, consular staff tackle the fall-out from a new drug on club scene - the so-called 'pink pill'. A young tourist is found lost, nearly naked, and unable to recall anything but his name. Then the Brit dealers who supply the pills also need help after they're arrested. In Mallorca, staff deal with a young Brit who's been tasered by overzealous police. A holidaymaker from Essex has been run over by a drunk driver, and lies seriously injured in hospital. And a Lancashire couple's holiday is transformed by the arrival, nine weeks early, of their tiny baby son. In Barcelona and Tenerife, crime has its effects on visitors and on the workload of the Consulates. Street robberies and stolen passports lead to inconvenience, distress and unexpected costs for holidaymakers. Meanwhile consular staff are also busy helping some of the people who need it most – expat prisoners & homeless Brits who simply want to go home. ‘Our Man In…’ was filmed mainly in August and September last year and is produced by Screenchannel Television, a London-based independent production company. The executive producers are Emma Barker, a former commissioning editor and controller at ITV, and Peter Lowe, a former executive producer and programme editor at BBC Television and controller at Carlton Television.


No date set for Málaga's second prison to come into service

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Construction appears to be funded, but the problem is how to find the money for the staffThe entrance to the Alhaurin prison  There is concern over when a new prison being built in Archidona, Málaga will be able to accept inmates. 70% of the construction, which is budgeted at 117 million, has been done, and there is a date of the end of this year or the start of next for completion. However to start accepting inmates the prison has to employ some 600 people, and there has been no advertising of any jobs as yet. Union CCOO think the new Director of Prisons, Ángel Yuste, wants to delay the reception of the installations as long as possible as there is no money, and noting that the maintenance of the facility could be more than five million a year. The new prison will have 1,008 cells. We will probably better know if there is funding to open the prison after we have seen the State Budget for 2012 which the PP is to reveal next month. Thankfully the prison population has fallen slightly, falling by 1.6% in Andalucia in 2010. The latest figures show 17,215 inmates in 9,445 cells. At Málaga’s prison in Alhaurín de la Torre which was designed for some 1,000 prisoners, it is now holding 1,400, and has held as many as 1,900 inmates at times in the past.


Bikie's girlfriend still missing

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POLICE remain in the dark as to what has happened to missing woman Tina Greer. The girlfriend of a Fink motorcycle gang member disappeared almost a month ago from near Aratula. Police have expanded their search area to Lake Moogerah, south of Kalbar, using sonar and divers to search for her body. Mounted police are also being used to search the creeks surrounding the lake. Ipswich Detective Inspector Lew Strohfeldt said while the case officially remained a missing person investigation, police were searching the lake for a body. "We're looking to see if we can find any human remains in this lake," he said. "We can't say whether Tina will be found alive and well, whether she may have had some sort of an accident or if she has been the victim of some sort of foul play, we just don't know." Divers have been scanning the lake with sonar for the past two days and will continue today. They are yet to find any objects of interest. Insp Strohfeldt confirmed Ms Greer's boyfriend was a member of the Finks motorcycle gang. While police had talked to him, they were not in regular contact and were uncertain of his present location. "We have spoken to him, but as I said we have got no information that would assist us in locating Tina," Insp Strohfeldt said. Police divers have been scanning the lake using the same sonar technology used to find shipwrecks. Information received from the device will be used to identify non-natural objects hidden underwater. Divers will then investigate any objects of interests they identify. Ms Greer was last seen on Wednesday, January 18 leaving her home in Beechmont on the Gold Coast hinterland. Her car, a maroon Holden Commodore was found on Governor's Lookout containing her belongings including phone and handbag


New laws to break bikies' silience

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Bikies who refuse to answer questions at Australian Crime Commission coercive hearings face immediate imprisonment. Legislative amendments introduced in Parliament on Wednesday will see those who refuse to cooperate detained and dealt with in the Supreme Court for contempt - rather than facing a charge that can take up to two years to be dealt with in the lower courts . SA police use the ACC's coercive hearings as part of investigations into high risk crime groups - including bikie gangs - with the most recent gang member summonsed to appear one of the suspects involved in the internal war between Comancheros members. One senior gang figure is currently before Adelaide Magistrates Court on a charge of failing to answer questions at an ACC hearing. The amendment to the Australian Crime Commission (SA) Act 2004 is one of a raft of new legislative initiatives unveiled by Attorney-General John Rau as part of the fight against bikie gangs. Others include new laws preventing gang members from associating, protection for witnesses, harsher bail provisions and amendments to repair anti-bikie legislation that was inoperable following two recent High Court decisions.  Mr Rau yesterday said the ACC amendment was one of several new measures aimed at cracking the bikie code of silence that often hampered police investigations. "It is one of a dozen or more recalibrations that tighten the noose around them a little bit more," he said. Mr Rau said he was hoping the legislative package would proceed through parliament rapidly because his briefings with police indicated there was a danger the current volatile situation with gang violence in Adelaide could escalate. "There is a credible risk that if this legislation is not passed things might deteriorate. I am not prepared to be any more explicit than that," he said. After a meeting with Mr Rau on Friday, Shadow Attorney-General Stephen Wade said the legislation would be discussed at a Liberal party room meeting on February 27. "This Bill is without doubt an improvement on the 2008 Act," he said. "Just as we gave the 2008 Bill thorough scrutiny.......we will also be giving this thorough scrutiny." Opposition leader Isobel Redmond, police spokesman Duncan McFetridge and Mr Wade will meet with senior police tommorrow to be briefed on the extent of the gang and organised crime problems confronting the community. Several senior defence lawyers told the Sunday Mail they thought it unlikely new contempt sanctions would see gang members comply with a coercive hearing. "History has shown us that many take no notice of the threat of jail if they do not comply," one said. "Look at just who has gone to prison for failing to answer questions and who is before court now on the same charges. If they do not want to talk, they won't." In Western Australia last year a Finks bikie was given a two-year jail sentence for failing to answer questions before Western Australia's corruption commission, which has the contempt provision planned for SA. The man was one of five bikies charged with contempt after refusing to give evidence into a wild brawl involving the Finks and the Coffin Cheaters.


Hells Angel turns informer for SharQc cases

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A longtime member of the Hells Angels has decided to turn his back on the biker gang and is expected to testify against the men he used to call brothers in upcoming trials. Dayle Fredette was rushed into a courtroom on the fourth floor of a Montreal courthouse Thursday morning where he confirmed, before Superior Court Justice André Vincent, that he signed a contract to testify against Hells Angels in trials that emerged out of Operation SharQc, a police investigation that ended in April 2009 with the arrests of almost all of the gang's Quebec-based members. The prosecution believes almost all Hells Angels in the province agreed to take part in a conflict over drug trafficking turf, between 1994 and 2002, which resulted in the deaths of more than 160 people. The first of many trials expected to come out of Operation SharQc is to begin hearing evidence in September. Fredette was accompanied by at least four police bodyguards as he was rushed into room 4.01 of the courthouse for an unscheduled hearing where he entered a guilty plea to two charges. News that Fredette had decided to turn witness surfaced in September. Documents filed in court Thursday reveal he began speaking to police on July 2, 2011, and continued giving statements until Oct. 11. He underwent a lie-detector test on Oct. 12 and signed to be a witness for the prosecution on Feb. 8. As part of the contract, Fredette, a member of the gang's Quebec City chapter, will be paid $50 a month while he serves a life sentence, plus another $300 annually during his time in prison and $500 a week for the first two years after he is granted parole. His two young children will each receive monthly payments of $150 till they are adults, plus a maximum of $3,500 toward their post-secondary education. The contract also calls on the Sûreté du Québec to protect Fredette, his loved ones and dependents. There is no mention in the contract of how much that security is expected to cost taxpayers. On Thursday, Fredette pleaded guilty to a first-degree murder charge as well as one count of conspiracy to commit murder. This apparently gives Fredette the chance at the so-called faint-hope clause, where a person convicted of first-degree murder can appear before a jury after having served 15 years of his sentence and argue he is ready to be released into society. People convicted of more than one murder charge are not eligible and must serve at least 25 years. In exchange for his guilty plea and his future testimony, Fredette is immune from prosecution in five other murders in which he played a role. That includes the killing of Robert (Tout Tout) Léger in Ste. Catherine de Hatley on Aug. 12, 2001. Léger was a leading members of the Bandidos in Quebec when he was killed, and his death would have been regarded as a major score for the rival Hells Angels. Fredette also cannot be pursued in civil court for the deaths. The murder to which Fredette pleaded guilty involved a case of mistaken identity where Dany Beaudin was shot on April 17, 2000, outside a drug rehab centre in St. Frédéric, in the Beauce region. Prosecutor Sabin Ouellet told Vincent that Fredette controlled a drug trafficking network in the region and paid 10 per cent of the profits to the Hell's Angels. Fredette was part of a puppet gang called the Mercenaries before becoming a fullpatch member of the Hell's Angels on May 5, 1998. To get that status, Ouellet said, Fredette worked almost exclusively on gathering intelligence and plotting the murders of rival gang members. After he decided to become a witness, he told police the gang's "10 per cent fund" was used to cover his expenses while plotting the killings. Ouellet said Beaudin was killed by Fredette and two accomplices based on an error made by Fredette. The Hells Angels wanted to kill another man attending the drug rehab centre that day, the prosecutor said. Fredette was supposed to spot the intended target through binoculars while an accomplice waited with a long-range rifle. The man with the rifle shot Beaudin, based on Fredette's mistaken identification. Then both men moved in closer and shot Beaudin several times with hand guns. As part of his witness contract, Fredette cannot profit from his criminal past - for example, with a book or movie.


Hells Angel linked to BPS station construction

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The new police station isn’t open yet but it appears it has already been paid a visit by a gang member. Despite reports that a full-patch Hells Angels member was among those working at the construction site, the city’s police chief says the station’s security hasn’t been put at risk.


Spain's Corruption Crisis Reaches the Palace

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Spain, already suffering a painful fiscal hangover from years of economic excess, now faces another unpleasant morning-after symptom: a wave of corruption cases engulfing city halls, regional governments, and even the royal family. Transparency International estimates that 1,000 corruption investigations are now under way across the country, most involving charges that public officials took advantage of the economic boom to enrich themselves. In the highest-profile case yet, Inaki Urdangarin, the son-in-law of King Juan Carlos, was stripped of his official duties in December pending an investigation into charges that he skimmed millions of dollars from padded government contracts. Urdangarin, summoned to appear before prosecutors on Feb. 25, has denied wrongdoing. Fresh allegations seem to be cropping up almost daily. The ex-president of the Balearic Islands went on trial in January on charges including embezzlement and fraud, while police in Andalucia accused that region’s former employment chief with spending $1.2 million in public money on cocaine and other personal purchases. And José Blanco, the longtime Socialist Party No. 2, is under investigation for influence-peddling in the northwestern region of Galicia. Lawyers for all of the accused say the charges are false. Such reports come at an awkward time for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s new government, which is asking citizens to swallow more than $19 billion in tax increases and spending cuts, while promising a crackdown on tax evasion. Rallies against the planned austerity measures drew tens of thousands of protesters in several cities on Jan. 26. With an absolute majority in parliament, Rajoy will have no trouble getting those measures enacted, says Alejandro Quiroga, a Spanish political scientist at Newcastle University in Britain. But, Quiroga says, “there will be a price to pay,” with the schedule of planned corruption trials now stretching into 2014. “The contradiction between politicians taking advantage of public money, while asking the public to deal with huge austerity measures, is going to get worse with time.” A RAPID SLIDE INTO CORRUPTION As recently as a decade ago, Spain was considered one of the world’s least-corrupt countries. But over the past 7 years, its ranking has slid from 22nd to 31st place on Transparency International’s annual survey of perceptions of corruption worldwide. Spain became a breeding ground for graft during its 15-year real estate boom, says Manuel Villoria, a political scientist at the Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid who serves on the executive committee of Transparency’s Spanish affiliate. Antiquated laws gave local officials almost unlimited discretion over land-use planning, he says, and developers willingly forked over bribes to get approvals for construction. In the southern resort city of Marbella, prosecutors have accused a former city planning adviser with amassing a $3.4 fortune, including a palace in Madrid and a stud farm guarded by a tiger. Already convicted of bribery and embezzlement, Roca is now being tried on additional charges, along with more than 80 co-defendants. A person answering the phone at the office of Roca’s lawyer hung up on a reporter seeking comment. Many of the cases now coming to light involve alleged looting of public agencies that were flush with tax receipts and European Union aid during the boom. Investigators have said that a nonprofit foundation run by Urdangarin, the royal son-in-law, negotiated inflated contracts to organize tourism and sporting events for regional governments in Valencia and on the island of Mallorca. Millions were then funneled from the foundation into private companies owned by Urdangarin and a business partner. It’s the first time that the country’s popular monarchy has been hit by scandal, and the royal family has moved swiftly to contain the damage. In early December, Queen Sofia flew to Washington, where Urdangarin lives with Princess Cristina and their 4 children; soon after, the palace announced Urdangarin would step aside from official duties, and that the royal household would make its financial accounts available for public inspection. In still other cases, money skimmed from public coffers was used to finance political party activities, says Ken Dubin, a political scientist at IE Business School and Carlos III University. Even the most humdrum government activities became sources of illicit cash. An audit of a wastewater-treatment agency in Valencia found more than $22 million had disappeared from its accounts; agency executives charged Armani suits and luxury watches to their expense accounts and jetted around the globe, staying in five-star hotels at which they sometimes were accompanied by women described as “Romanian translators.” Marta Andreasen, a Spanish-trained accountant who previously served as the European Union’s chief financial controller and now is a member of the European Parliament, says neither the EU nor the Spanish government showed much interest in controlling such abuses. “A culture was created, we had all this economic growth, and people sort of thought, ‘Who cares?’ Even honest people tolerated it.”


Child asylum seekers receive £1m Home Office compensation

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Forty children held in adult detention centres while seeking asylum are understood to have received a share of £1m compensation from the Home Office. The children, thought to have been as young as 14, began legal proceedings in 2005 for being "wrongfully detained". Previously, immigration officers could refuse to accept a person's claim to be under 18, if they suspected otherwise, and deal with them as an adult. The government has since accepted its policy was unlawful, and changed it. The compensation, plus a further £1m in costs, was paid to a number of boys and girls from countries including Afghanistan, Iran, Somalia and China, reports the Guardian newspaper. The payments were made in 2009 and 2010 but have only just come to light. The children had launched judicial review proceedings of the Home Office's policy in 2005. Mark Scott, of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, who represented the children in their judicial review proceedings, said: "It is obvious that vulnerable children who have done nothing other than to seek help should not be locked up by the State." 'Expert knowledge' Before 2005, the judgement on whether they were 18 or over could be made by an individual immigration officer and they could then be kept under lock and key in an adult detention centre. Continue reading the main story “ Start Quote Vulnerable children who have done nothing other than to seek help should not be locked up by the State” Mark Scott Bhatt Murphy Solicitors This policy was eventually accepted to be unlawful by the Home Office in January 2007, which conceded that it "did not strike the right balance between, on the one hand, the interests of firm and fair immigration control and, on the other hand, the importance of avoiding the detention of unaccompanied children". A UK Border Agency spokesman said: "We take the welfare of young people exceptionally seriously. "Where there is any doubt over an individual's age, they will not be detained unless an independent local authority age assessment concludes that they are over 18. These checks are carried out by social workers with expert knowledge. "All of our front-line staff receive specialist training to ensure that the welfare of young people is considered at every stage."


Witnesses reveal Lord Lucan's 'secret life in Africa'

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Evidence that missing aristocrat Lord Lucan was smuggled out of the UK to a secret life abroad has come from two new witnesses. An ex-detective said there was a credible sighting of Lucan in Africa. And a woman who worked for Lucan's friend John Aspinall told the BBC she arranged for his children to fly to Africa where the peer could view them "from a distance". Lucan disappeared in 1974 after the murder of his children's nanny. Sandra Rivett was found dead at Lucan's home in Belgravia, London. The peer's blood-soaked car was later found abandoned in Newhaven, East Sussex. 'Flights to Africa' Lucan, born Richard John Bingham in 1934, was officially declared dead by the High Court in 1999. Continue reading the main story “ Start Quote Instructions were to make arrangements for John Bingham, also known as Lord Lucan, to see his children” Jill Findlay Secretary to John Aspinall In an interview in 2000, Aspinall said Lucan probably committed suicide by scuttling his boat in the English Channel. Since Lucan's disappearance there have been more than 70 alleged sightings of him in countries across the world including South Africa, Australia, Ireland and the Netherlands. Mr Aspinall's secretary, who asked not to be identified and assumed the name Jill Findlay, said she was invited into meetings where the missing aristocrat was discussed by her boss and Sir James Goldsmith, the multi-millionaire businessman. "Instructions were to make arrangements for John Bingham, also known as Lord Lucan, to see his children and to do that I had to book his two eldest children on flights to Africa," she said. "I don't know the exact dates, it was between 1979 and 1981 and it was on two occasions I booked the flights." She said the children would have visited Kenya and Gabon and Lucan would have been able to see them from a distance but he would not meet them or speak to them. Clear conscience Ms Findlay said she had "no idea of the enormity" of the search under way for Lucan who was then the most wanted man in Britain. She also said Mr Aspinall told her to expect him to announce Lucan's death to the press, a statement which came in 2000 and which she took as a signal that he had died in Africa. It took Ms Findlay a further 12 years to break her silence. She said events began to piece themselves together as she reflected on her life during a recent illness and she wanted to talk to the BBC to pass on information to whoever may find it of interest. Ms Findlay said her conscience was clear because she had not helped Lucan escape. She said she was prepared to give Scotland Yard a statement. Mr Aspinall died in June 2000, three years after the death of Sir James Goldsmith. 'Investigation stopped' Bob Polkinghorne, a former detective inspector who worked on the Lucan inquiry when it was being dealt with as a cold case during the 1980s, also said: "The word was he was in Africa. "Lady Lucan, I am quite convinced, didn't think he was dead." Continue reading the main story “ Start Quote I think his gambling fraternity friends spirited him out the country” Bob Polkinghorne He said a further confirmation that Lucan was alive came from a reliable witness who saw one of Lucan's close acquaintances in the early 1980s as he holidayed in Africa. Mr Polkinghorne said: "He was surprised to see this acquaintance standing on a bridge. "After two to three minutes, he was joined by another man who he is adamant was Lord Lucan." The former detective, who now lives in Kent, said permission to pursue this lead was refused by the Metropolitan Police. He said: "I was then later told, a few days later, discontinue the inquiry. You haven't got approval to continue." And he added: "I think his [Lucan's] gambling fraternity friends spirited him out the country."



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Hood's lover desperate to raise awareness over spate of young victims


FUNDRAISER: Vicky Dempsey poses with picture of her brother


FUNDRAISER: Vicky Dempsey poses with picture of her brother 

THIS is gangster 'Fat' Freddie Thompson's girlfriend posing for photographs at a fundraiser for suicide awareness last week. Vicky Dempsey (31) has been dating 'Fat' Freddie since they were teenagers and has stayed loyal to the notorious criminal through thick and thin. 


The pretty blonde - who has an 11-year-old son with Thompson - recently turned up in court for her partner's extradition hearing. But last weekend, the mum-of-one was part of a group who camped out near the Guinness Hopstore in Dublin to raise cash for suicide charity. The fundraiser was arranged after a "spate" of suicides among young people in the south-inner city.


In August 2008,Vicky's brother, Les, tragically took his own life just days before his 26th birthday at a house in Clondalkin, west Dublin. Les was an associate of 'Fat' Freddie's but was not regarded as a serious or violent criminal by cops. A source told the Sunday World that her brother's death has had a "terrible impact" on Vicky.

"They were very close and she took it very hard. Les was a very well liked guy, he wasn't a hard man or anything like that.

"She does a lot for suicide awareness charities since and arranges a fundraising ball in his honour every year."

Vicky's other brother, Karl, is one of Thompson's key associates. In 2000, Karl was jailed for five years after he was caught with
€63,000 of heroin. The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) also ordered him to cough up €424,987 following an investigation in 2002. Writing on the tribute website, Vicky recently posted a heartbreaking tribute to Les.

She wrote: "I've one son Brad and a partner Frederick.

"Les is Brad's godfather and is sorely missed by every single one of us. life is just never gonna be the same without my lovely brother."

Gardai believe 'Fat' Freddie is the leader of one of the two gangs locked in the bloody Crumlin/Drimnagh feud. Last year, he was extradited following a request by Spanish police investigating godfather Christy Kinahan's drugs ring. Thompson is suspected of sourcing shipments of drugs and weapons from Kinahan and arranging for them to be smuggled into Ireland.

Last weekend, Vicky was also joined by the family and friends of another well-known southinner city criminal at the 24-hour camp out.
Last March, Bernard 'Gack' Lee took his own life just days before he was due to be sentenced for heroin dealing. In March 2008, Lee (28) had sold a large quantity of heroin to undercover gardai who were monitoring his activities. Gardai believe Lee was a member of a crime gang headed up by crime figure Greg Lynch.

Last Saturday his close friend, Ciara Comerford, held a photograph of 'Gack' as she posed for pictures. Fat Freddie is currently relaxing in Marbella after being released from custody, having only been quizzed for a matter of hours following his extradition.


Despite the seriousness of the charges, the maximum sentence that the mobster is facing is just nine years in prison. The Spanish authorities have not provided any direct evidence to back-up assertions that Thompson is a key member of the Kinahan gang.
They claim that he is a "trusted right-hand man" of Kinihan.