The confessed figurehead of the ‘Erial case’ plot has sung the traviata. Joaquín Barceló, a childhood friend of Eduardo Zaplana and nicknamed ‘Pachano’, has exposed the former president of the Generalitat Valenciana. His testimony supports the accusation of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, which requests 19 years in prison for Zaplana, and opens the door to other confessions of the members of the alleged corrupt plot. “It was Eduardo Zaplana’s money,” he stated bluntly, referring to money in tax havens.

He did it all out of friendship, he said. The anti-corruption prosecutor, Pablo Ponce, has asked him if he acted as a front man. “He was a trusted friend, he asks me for favors, if that’s called a front man, okay,” Pachano answered.

The interrogation has been devastating and opens a hole in the defense of Eduardo Zaplana, the main accused. The former PP minister reduced his role to a mere intermediary. Joaquín Barceló has detailed the mechanism used by the plot in Luxembourg. Zaplana asked him to act as a front man in companies in the Grand Duchy to guard “money that he did not expect from an operation in which he had practically not participated.” It was, as he later discovered, money that came from the awarding of the ITVs. The Cotino family paid an alleged commission in Luxembourg to the Zaplana gang after having obtained the million-dollar contract.

Zaplana “was more afraid of the media issue than the political issue,” he said. Zaplana’s former chief of staff, Juan Francisco García, told him that it was a “transparent and lawful operation,” so he agreed to lend his name.

‘Pachano’ went to Luxembourg with José and Vicente Cotino, both accused in the case, on a “private plane”, by order of Zaplana. There he met with Beatriz García Paesa, niece of the famous spy, hired to set up the financial racket in the tax haven. “I simply had to sign a paper that later has not appeared anywhere.”

“I signed the paper and that’s it”

“Was the money yours?” the prosecutor asked him. “No,” the accused replied. ‘Pachano’ has hinted that the friends of the plot used him and deceived him. He thought that he had barely two million euros in Luxembourg. However, when the agents of the Central Operational Unit (UCO) of the Civil Guard detained him, they told him that there were 6.4 million. “I told the agent he is making a mistake, there are two of them. “They laughed among themselves,” he said.

Barceló also met in a restaurant in Madrid with García Paesa and Francisco Grau, tax advisor of the plot, in a kind of general meeting of the company. “I signed the paper and that’s it,” he said.

Pachano was kind of a useful fool. “First I was convinced that it was absolutely legal, we made inquiries and it was all correct,” he said. However, when he found out that the funds came from ITV, the matter “smelled bad” to him. “It’s not that I see clearly that he is a criminal but I get upset,” he declared. He has also assured that Zaplana introduced him to the Uruguayan lawyer Fernando Belhot, a confessed launderer of the plot.


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