The contract to draw up the project for one of the star works of Almeida’s mandate, the burying of the Extremadura highway (A-5), was awarded by the Madrid City Council to a company in which the brother of his delegate from Mobility, Borja Carabante. Subterra engineering, beneficiary of the award for just over three million euros together with the company Esteyco, has been Rafael Carabante’s workplace for more than ten years and where he directs one of his departments.
Almeida declares “unfeasible” the current project to bury the A-5, his most expensive electoral promise
Bidding documents to which Somos Madrid has had access reveal that the mayor participated directly in the proceedings of this contest. It was he who accepted the proposal from the awarding table for this contract in the middle of summer, on Monday, August 17, 2020. In it, he proposed to commission the drafting of the execution project for the Paseo Verde del Suroeste (undergrounding of the A-5 ) to the Esteyco-Subterra offer for being the one that had obtained the highest score at the contracting table, chaired by a person in charge appointed by Carabante himself. The result of the tender considered it “the best offer in terms of value for money according to the weighting of the award criteria,” explains the acceptance agreement, digitally signed at 9:45 a.m. on that day.
On Tuesday, August 18, at 10:29 a.m., the Mobility delegate annulled the award without giving any reason for doing so. The reasons why he was refusing to deliver a contract that he had put in place at the beginning of the year were not explained until a week later, on Monday, August 24. That day the mayor, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, decreed that he accepted a request for abstention from Borja Carabante in the award of the contract and ordered his spokesperson, Inmaculada Sanz, to replace him.
The mayor’s decree was not published in the Official Gazette of the Madrid City Council (BOAM) nor in the Contracting Portal where the most important documents of the tender are listed. It is only partially accessible in the list of decrees and resolutions that are posted quarterly on the Transparency Portal, and it does not indicate the reasons that led to ordering the replacement. It is common for these substitutions in municipal contracting processes to be published in the BOAM, but the Madrid City Council assures -in statements to this newspaper- that it did not do so because the public contracts law does not require it.
The reason for the abstention that is included in the Almeida decree and that the consistory has kept hidden until this publication are the family ties between the delegate and the winning company. According to sources from the Mobility area, Borja Carabante requested it on August 17, after having signed the acceptance of the proposal and one day before annulling his decision.
As the mayor of Madrid indicates in his decree, the Mobility delegate abstained to comply with Law 40/2015 on the Legal Regime of the Public Sector, which indicates that the authorities in his position “will refrain from intervening in the procedure and will notify to his immediate superior.
Specifically, by awarding the work to his brother’s company, he could have violated section 2.b of article 23.1 of the aforementioned norm, which considers as a reason for abstention “having a marriage bond or assimilable factual situation and the relationship of consanguinity within of the fourth degree or of affinity within the second, with any of the interested parties, with the administrators of interested entities or companies and also with the advisers, legal representatives or agents involved in the procedure, as well as sharing a professional office or being associated with them for advice, representation or mandate”.
A firm that raised suspicions
The mayor’s resignation to participate in the final stretch of the award did not alter the result or the award of the contract of three million euros to the joint venture of which the company where his brother works was a part.
The second acceptance of the award proposal was signed that same week, on Thursday, August 27. Inmaculada Sanz, Security delegate and spokesperson for the Almeida government, did it. The terms of the agreement were the same as those that Borja Carabante had validated ten days before and there was no modification of the previous steps of the tender or the terms of the award. Only the signature of the Mobility delegate was replaced by that of the spokesperson.
The final award of the project for the undergrounding of the A-5 was published on the Contracting Portal on October 13, again with the signature of Inmaculada Sanz. Without knowing all the previous details revealed today by Somos Madrid, it was a heading that drew attention: why did the municipal spokesperson sign the award to project the most expensive work of the entire legislature and Borja Carabante, the Mobility delegate, did not? who started the bidding? The exclusive that this newspaper publishes today reveals the reasons.
On the same October 13, the Madrid City Council informed the union of Esteyco-Subterra companies that they had won the contest to draw up the burial project for 3,077,246.29 euros (VAT included), one of the cheapest offers. The contract was finally signed on November 12, 2020, the date on which the 9-month period to carry out the work began.
Rafael Carabante, at Subterra since 2012
The reason given by Borja Carabante in those procedures that the City Council kept secret to abstain in the second award, after having canceled the first, is that his brother Rafael Carabante Muntada works in one of the winning companies, Subterra Engineering. He has been part of its staff since 2012 and currently holds the position of Head of Delineation, at the head of one of the eight departments of the company, according to the organization chart published by the company itself on its website.
Rafael Carabante’s curriculum is full of tunnel construction projects, in which he has worked as a designer on numerous underground sections of highways or railways since the late 1990s, according to the information available on the Subterra website. He has also participated as a consultant in the construction of tunnels in different places. Its public Linkedin profile also highlights the employment relationship with this engineering.
To questions from Somos Madrid, a spokesperson for the Mobility area has confirmed that Rafael Carabante works for said company, but alleges that Borja Carabante “does not participate in any contracting table of the Madrid City Council” and that on August 17 the delegate drafted the letter of abstention addressed to the mayor, although it was officially sent on the 18th. The Almeida government does not explain when the delegate learned that his brother’s company was opting for the contest.
Municipal contracting experts consulted by Somos Madrid explain that, in order to have stayed out of the procedure, delegate Carabante should have abstained from the day his brother’s company had submitted an offer, since at the time the offer was opened technical, which took place on June 16, 2020, the Mobility department was aware of Subterra’s participation in the contest. That same day the president of the contracting table, Lola Ortiz, could have communicated the existence of this offer.
Almeida’s most expensive work
Borja Carabante is one of the councilors of the Madrid City Council in whom the mayor, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, has the most confidence. The PP mayor has a guaranteed position on his party lists for the upcoming municipal elections in Madrid and maintains a close personal relationship with his boss in Cibeles, with whom he shares morning runs (they trained together to play the last San Silvestre) or vacations (They have made a pilgrimage together on several occasions on the Camino de Santiago). The mayor has just named him spokesman for his electoral campaign to try to get re-elected in May.
At the beginning of the legislature, Almeida entrusted his Mobility councilor with one of the most difficult works of the legislature and by far the most expensive: burying the A-5 at its entrance to Madrid. The Extremadura highway is the last open wound by an urban highway that remains to the capital and during the 2019 electoral campaign the now mayor had promised to take it underground, in opposition to the urban road project of the Manuela Carmena team, which began with the installation of traffic lights.
But the underground works have been delayed and are currently in the air, pending the resolution of the agreement to relaunch Operation Camp, another urban operation that the central government will have to sign with the Madrid City Council in the coming months. . Although the mayor assures that the project to carry out the construction of the tunnel is finished, its content remains unknown: the council has not yet shown it at any public event. He only showed two slides in an appearance by Borja Carabante to explain his general lines, in an act at the Latina Board held a year ago that ended with more questions than answers. A few months later Almeida declared it “unfeasible”.
This Sunday the residents of the Latina neighborhoods that surround the Extremadura highway have demonstrated by cutting the highway in its urban section under the motto Solutions now!, convened by neighborhood associations. The call sought to put pressure on the parties and speed up the deadlines for the end of the last urban highway in Madrid.