Valencia regional deputy Rafael Blasco helped defraud €1.8 million set aside for development schemes in Nicaragua and €4 million for a bogus hospital project in Haiti in the aftermath of their devastating 2010 earthquake.
He did so by pressuring his employees into handing out subsidies to the Cyes Foundation, a fake NGO which syphoned off the funds into real estate purchases in Spain’s Valencia region.
The 69-year-old, who switched from Spain’s Socialist Party to the right-wing Popular Party when he was kicked out for allegedly accepting bribes in return for favours to real estate developers, has defended his innocence throughout the trial.
Blasco stood trial alongside eight other suspects, including the already jailed businessman Augusto César Tauroni and Cyes Foundation President Marcial López, who were sentenced to eight and four years behind bars respectively.
The crimes were carried out while Francisco Camps – former president of Valencia who was acquitted of corruption in 2012 – was in power. He has since denied he knew anything about Blasco’s wrongdoings.
Described by Spain’s edition of The Huffington Post as one of Valencia’s “indestructible” politicians, Blasco has now been barred from politics for 20 years.
He is one of numerous high-profile figures in the region to have been embroiled in corruption scandals.
As Reuters journalist Julian Toyer put it, “once the beacon of Spain's new economic grandeur, the Mediterranean region of Valencia has become a symbol of all that is wrong with the country”.