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Union spends €100K on fake designer gifts

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Union spends €100K on fake designer gifts
The bags were handed out as gifts to delegates at a regional congress in Seville in 2009, alongside the 1,000 Francis Montesinos pens, a high-end Spanish brand. Photo:smelly13cat/Flickr
14:54 CET+01:00
Spain's biggest workers' union used EU funds meant for training courses for the unemployed to instead buy 700 counterfeit briefcases, a Spanish newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The Andalusian branch of Spain's General Workers Union allegedly used bogus receipts to charge its regional government over €100,000 for 700 leather briefcases and 1,000 luxury pens.

UGT, as the union is known in Spain, claimed the money had been spent on advertising campaigns for training courses offered to unemployed people in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia.

But according to Spain's right-leaning daily El Mundo, the money went to a supplier who ordered 700 fake Salvador Bachiller briefcases from a manufacturer in Asia.

The bags were handed out as gifts to delegates at a regional congress in Seville in 2009, alongside the 1,000 Francis Montesinos pens, a high-end Spanish brand.

The allegations come in the midst of a 3-year-long fraud investigation involving €17 million of public funds being misused by the very same branch of Spain's General Workers Union.

Known as the ERE or reptile funds scandal, the case originally involved the corrupt management of a pension fund for a firm called Mercasevilla.

'Fake' early pensions were paid out over many years to people who had never actually worked for the company.

This original case has since spread its octopus-like tentacles to cover huge numbers of associated kick-backs, not to mention all the trading in favours.

More than 60 people have been investigated to date, among them seven people who used to work for the Andalusian parliament.

An ERE is a procedure which allows companies in Spain in financial difficulties to legally suspend or lay off workers.

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