Corruption storm: Malaga politician accused of siphoning public money

Universidad de Deusto/PP Malaga

MISUSED MONEY: The Deusto Business School, Madrid, and (inset) Margarita del Cid.

A COSTA DEL SOL politician has sparked outrage after being accused of using public money to pay for luxury meals and a €2,000 degree.

Margarita El Cid, vice-president of the conservative Popular Party in Malaga and leader of the Association of Western Costa del Sol Municipalities, allegedly misused funds from 2011-2014, when she served as party general secretary and was a Torremolinos councillor.

She is blamed for siphoning cash from bank accounts of both her party and the association, some of which was used to pay for a Master’s degree in Public Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Innovation from the Deusto private business school in Spanish capital Madrid.

An anonymous letter detailing the infractions was sent to current party general secretary Maria Dolores de Cospedal last October.

Funds from the Association of Western Costa del Sol Municipalities, which covers Benahavis, Benalmadena, Casares, Estepona, Fuengirola, Istan, Manilva, Marbella, Mijas, Ojen and Torremolinos, can only be used to pay for association business, which includes environmental and infrastructure projects, beach safety, and the promotion of tourism.

El Cid is also president of public water company Acosol, which is owned by the association.

But the letter claims that she made personal use of public money by using ‘blank cheques’ to pay for more than €6,000 worth of expensive meals on her days off plus another €7,000 of ‘dubious expenses.’

She is also accused of failing to bank €29,000 intended for ‘sociological services,’ transferring €40,000 from the association to her Popular Party’s provincial account, and signing off invoices worth almost €30,000 for non-approved public opinion surveys.

A party official said in response to the claims: “This party has no evidence to suggest the existence of any unjustified payments, all information related to economic management is available to municipal investigators and the association successfully passed a recent audit of its accounts.”

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