October 27, 2014 / 2:06 PM / 6 years ago

Spanish police arrest dozens in $300 million corruption case

Bystanders watch and heckle outside the Valdemoro town hall during an anti-corruption raid on politicians, construction executives and municipal workers suspected of money laundering, forgery, bribery and embezzlement in Valdemoro, outside Madrid October 27, 2014. REUTERS/Andrea Comas

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish police have arrested 51 people as part of a graft investigation involving local government construction contracts, the anti-corruption prosecutor’s office said on Monday.

The investigation, “Operation Punica” — centred around town halls mainly in the regions of Madrid, Murcia, Leon and Valencia — is one of numerous corruption scandals that have hit Spain’s mainstream political parties and many bankers in recent months.

“The collusion between local councillors and civil servants, with builders and energy service companies, and the corruption of middle-men and key companies, has helped them to secure contracts worth around 250 million euros ($300 million) in the last two years alone,” the prosecutor said in a statement.

A judicial source said one of those arrested was Francisco Granados, a former conservative deputy president of the Madrid region who resigned in February after it was revealed he had millions of euros in a Swiss bank account.

Information from Switzerland has helped Operation Punica, and investigators have issued search warrants on 259 properties, 400 banks, companies and insurers, blocked current accounts and assets and embargoed 30 vehicles.

Reporting by Raquel Castillo; Writing by Paul Day; Editing by Sarah Morris and Louise Ireland

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