May 16, 2022 11:22 pm

Investigated the dome of the Firefighters of the Generalitat for inflating bills




It was baptized as the ‘fire cartel’. It was 2016, and a series of irregularities in the awarding of contracts in the firefighters of the Valencian Community dotted Catalonia. The investigation was initiated by a court in Sagunto which, in 2017, referred the case to the National High Court and it is still in the investigation phase, but the Catalan Body has been splashed again by alleged irregularities. This time, in contracts for vehicle maintenance. A tender from which a Sevillian company, Iturri, among other reasons, because during the last years it was the only one that presented itself to the contest, “but something did not add up”, they indicate to ABC from the IAC-CATAC union.


In 2010 and 2017, the amount budgeted for truck repairs was decreasing, although the number of vehicles was larger. With which, each year debt was assumed that was passed on to the next contract and this is what would have generated the easement to a single company and eliminated the law of concurrence in the public contest, “explains Antonio del Río, from UGT. The situation worsened even more in 2021, when the repair budget was exhausted before summer, with the forest campaign ahead. It was then that the alarms went off in the Home Department, and its owner, Miquel Sàmper (Junts), opened an investigation that ended up being referred to the Prosecutor’s Office. The investigations, as detailed by ‘La Vanguardia’, have resulted in the imputation of seven charges by Firefighters and the person in charge of Iturri in Catalonia.

They are being investigated for crimes of corruption, embezzlement, prevarication and forgery of public documents. And it is that the head of the Court of Instruction 14 of Barcelona suspects that there was an irregular management of public money sustained over time. As indicated by IAC-CATAC, «the lack of control and supervision over the invoices, as well as the lack of personnel” to assume these tasks could have been one of the reasons for the irregularities to which the judge now points.

«The system is not robust to detect these practices. We had already stated on occasion that Iturri did not comply as it should, but they told us that either they were not bound by contract or that they could not due to the large volume of work», indicate the same sources, which exemplify how invoices could be swollen: «In half of the parks in which the company carries out maintenance, there are often no personnel, because they are volunteer firefighters, therefore, there is no one to carry out a tracing. If perhaps several breakdowns accumulated, then they went for a single day, but they have been able to invoice various trips ».


It was the legal services of the Interior that detected “presumably fraudulent invoices», as detailed by Sàmper himself in Rac1. After promoting an internal investigation, requesting explanations from the director of the extinction service and not receiving a convincing justification, he decided to take the case to court. Despite this, the former counselor disassociated any official from the alleged irregularities. Not so the unions. “We do not put our hands in the fire for anyone, we will wait to see what the court says,” he points out from CC.OO. Joan Viesca.

After the departure of Sàmper and the arrival of Joan Ignasi Elena (ERC) at the Department, last June, the procedures for the resolution of the contract with Iturri began and a new tender was launched. “It seems that these bad practices have been working for a long time,” admitted the head of the Interior. For their part, the unions demand an audit to see if the irregularities detected respond to an isolated case or extend beyond the vehicle repair service.

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