Mask Kickback Suspected

The Guardia Civil suspect that Óscar Liria, who is the Vice-Chairman of the Provincial Council of Almeria, has taken kickbacks from the purchase of surgical masks during the pandemic.

He acquired at least two, high-range vehicles with money allegedly from bribes obtained from assigning purchase agreements for surgical masks worth a little over two million euros. The scandal is known as the Caso Mascarillas.

The two cars were BMWs through two companies located in Fines where he lives. The administrator of one is R.S.L., who just happens to be the cousin of the Mayor of Almanzora’s son. The two cars he acquired he reportedly gave one to his girlfriend, Ana Belén Martínez, who is the Councillor for Culture and Tourism at the Town Hall of Huércal-Overa. The other car he gave to his father.

The police investigation report considers that he received between 200,000 euros and 400,000 euros; i.e., up to 20% of the value of the mask-purchase contract with Azor Corporate Ibérica S.L.. Because of the urgency, the acquisition process in April 2020 was “via urgencia” which allowed administration to bypass certain anti-corruption safe guards.

According to the police, Sr. Liria used the company A.G.A. SL to transform funds with possible illicit origin. The police consider that this company, which is set up to manage financial and accounting services, handled the purchase of the two vehicles through a leasing contract with a bank.

Investigators have multiple evidence, amongst which are recorded telephone conversations between Sr. Liria’s brother and a female employee belonging to A.G.A., during which false expense bills were discussed to cover the purchase of one of the BMWs for his girlfriend. The said employee, after the Guardia Civil played back the recording, admitted to the existence of the said bills, it appears. She also admitted the involvement of the accused’s brother. Officers using a warrant carried out a search on the premises and located the said bills.

As for the second BMW, (the one he gave to his father) the police are investigating G.A. SL, which has Liria’s own cousin as administrator.

(News: Almería, Andalucia)

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