Too many skippers and no sailors in boat licence scam

MORE than 800 people, some from Almeria Province, are involved in a massive scam centring on boat-masters’ licences.
Guardia Civil’s criminal investigators from the Policia Judicial unit are probing a nationwide operation that procured the skippers’ tickets with authority to take 24-metre boats 150 nautical miles (277.8 kilometres) offshore.
Aspirants paid up to €2,000 and in return received envelopes containing the licence and documentation. On other occasions they were given exam papers already marked with the correct answers.
“Officers discovered that members of the exam panels were pressured into condoning the fraud,” Guardia Civil sources revealed. “The presidents of the sailing federations involved were threatened with losing their jobs unless they complied.”
Most of the 22 people arrested in connection with the case were from Cadiz, although two were from Almeria Province, together with another 65 named in the investigation.
The fraud has affected the Departments of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries in 31 provinces as well as the merchant Maritime Authority, the Spanish Speedboat Federation, the Spanish Sailing Federation and the Andalucia Sailing Federation.
It came to light when several regional governments noticed that they were issuing an increasing number of licences to people who did not figure on their databases.
This follows another case last June when an Almeria criminal court found five people guilty of selling boat-masters’ licences for up to €350. The fraud involved the Andalucia Speedboat Federation as well as the Madrid and Murcia Region Sailing Federations.

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