Spain prosecutor seeks trial for politician who brought F1 races to Valencia

Valencia, June 8 (IANS) The office of Spain’s anti-corruption prosecutor said Friday it had decided to instruct legal proceedings against a former president of the eastern region of Valencia over alleged offences including misappropriation of public funds linked to the hosting of Formula One races in the Mediterranean port city.

The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor said in its findings that Francisco Camps, who led Valencia’s regional administration from 2003-2011, had held numerous meetings with then F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and personally decided to hold the races despite evidence they would be a drain on public funds, reports Efe.

“All this was done in the knowledge that the event was economically unfeasible and also committing the region’s public funds while knowingly not complying with the mandatory administrative procedures,” the Prosecutor’s statement said.

F1 Grand Prix races were held on a street circuit in Valencia for five years, from 2008-2012.

According to the prosecutor’s findings, Camps, who belonged to the conservative Popular Party, reached an agreement to host the races while “thinking they may offer him an electoral advantage,” particularly ahead of regional elections held in May 2007.

The prosecutor’s statement, which EFE had access to, said “it is evident” that Camps, while acting as regional president, reached an agreement with Ecclestone in April 2006 to turn Valencia into an F1 venue “while acting beyond his administrative remit” and without having the appropriate authority “as a contracting body.”

Camps then asked José Luis Olivas, the president of regional bank Bancaja, to organise the event through a specially-created company, “guaranteeing that the regional government would take responsibility for the losses, thus committing public funds without proper regard for the correct administrative procedures.”

According to the statement, Ecclestone informed Camps in January 2007 that the fee that had to be paid would be $26 million.

After the 2008 GP, it became clear to those contracted to organise the races, a company called Valmor, that the events were “economically unfeasible and generated huge losses.”

However, Camps said then that his government, through a public company called Thematic Projects, would continue to pay the annual fee of $26 million and continue the races.

This decision was passed by Camp’s administration on July 31, 2009, the prosecutor said.

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