Koldo García’s long hand in the Ministry of Transportation: “He was very insistent” | Spain

Koldo García learned to move like a fish in water at the Ministry of Transportation. For this 54-year-old former escort, born in Barakaldo (Bizkaia), on the Left Bank of the Nervión estuary, the bowels of the Government became a new terrain in which to test his skills. He landed in the department at the hands of José Luis Ábalos, holder of the portfolio between 2018 and 2021, who granted him all the trust and endorsement. But, once inside it, he knew how to weave his own networks. In fact, the summary of the call Koldo case points out that the former socialist advisor was not only the alleged person in charge of introducing the corrupt network into the Administration to obtain mask contracts in the worst of the pandemic, but he also became the reference man to whom people turned in the event of any vicissitudes. .

The stories of the senior officials of the Ministries of Transport and the Interior, questioned as witnesses by the Civil Guard, fit together like the pieces of a puzzle. His statements portray a hyperactive Koldo García, who spoke on behalf of the minister, who shamelessly facilitated the contacts of members of the alleged corrupt network, who interceded for them, who even came in person to receive deliveries of medical supplies… “One of those people [con las que tuve conversaciones sobre el suministro de mascarillas] It was Koldo, who told us that they were chartering planes to bring masks to Spain from China,” said Police Commissioner José Antonio Rodríguez, general director of Coordination and Studies of the Secretary of State for Security.

Álvaro Sánchez Manzanares, general secretary of State Ports from mid-2018 until last Tuesday (when he was dismissed by Minister Óscar Puente), outlined a similar story: “I dealt with Koldo on numerous occasions in relation to the distribution of masks and the logistical needs of its delivery.” “Koldo was the person who arranged the distribution of masks with the Ministry of the Interior,” he added to the Civil Guard. A task that caught the attention of the researchers, who asked him: “And do you think that falls within the duties of the minister’s advisor?” “I don’t know, he was the person who tried to solve the problems that arose,” Sánchez Manzanares answered. And he solved them? “Don’t know. For example, we once had a problem with Customs and, after calling Koldo, someone from Customs contacted me to resolve the issue.”

“On this issue [de la contratación de Soluciones de Gestión], and in many others, Koldo was very insistent,” said Isabel Pardo de Vera, former president of Adif and former Secretary of State for Transportation: “Koldo was the person closest to Ábalos. His trusted person. He traveled regularly with the minister […] He contacted me on numerous occasions, always on behalf of José Luis Ábalos, for various issues.” Before the agents, this former senior official highlighted that the entire minister’s cabinet was made up “of people of a technical nature, with the exception of two.” One of them was Koldo García.

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The relationship between Ábalos and his former advisor was so close that, after both left Transportation in 2021, García continued to act as the former socialist leader’s intermediary. “Koldo is the contact between Ábalos and me,” said José Manuel Gómez, current Undersecretary of Transportation: “When Ábalos wants to talk to me, he contacts me through Koldo.” Martín José Navarro, director of Human Resources at Adif, pointed out the same thing to the agents: “Koldo was the person you had to talk to to access the minister.”

Koldo García solved problems and got wet. Navarro also indicated this to the Civil Guard: “In relation to a shipment of masks that were destined for the Interior, I contacted Koldo to have them return that order of masks to Adif because they had to distribute them.” An email sent in March 2020 by Rotaeche to Sánchez Manzanero points along the same lines, when disagreements arose regarding the arrival of a new batch of face masks: “We follow instructions from the Ministry of Transportation. To avoid problems, please talk to Koldo García.” “Koldo’s name sounds familiar to me because he would have gone to one of the deliveries of the masks at the airport, as a colleague told me,” Aránzazu de Miguel, head of the Contracting and Risk Management area of ​​State Ports, also stated.

The valuable role that Koldo García played in Transportation became his best endorsement within the corrupt network itself, where he acquired a greater role. And he knew it. Thus, although the investigators grant the businessmen Víctor de Aldama and Juan Carlos Cueto “a leading role in the genesis and execution of the contracts” under suspicion, the agents highlight the value of an intercepted call to Ábalos’ former advisor, in the that he takes responsibility for managing the alleged embezzlement as “his own project.” According to the UCO, García thus undervalued Aldama’s role and, at the same time, praised his own performance: “[Aldama] “It solved the problems I had to be able to execute and bring what I needed from outside.”

Francisco Toledo, former president of State Ports, told the Civil Guard a striking episode, which shows the peculiar position that Koldo García occupied in Transport: “After the dismissal of Ábalos, I received a letter from the ministry informing me that Koldo was leaving the position, not naming a person to replace him. I found it curious, since the usual procedure is that, after a dismissal, a new position is appointed to replace the dismissed one.” However, in this case, there was no new Koldo García.

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