Copyright organization chief faces 10 years in jail for diverting funds

SGAE head Teddy Bautista freed without bail but forbidden to leave Spain

M. ALTOZANO / M. CEBERIO BELAZA Madrid 3 JUL 2011 - 21:05 CET

The chairman of the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (SGAE), Spain's leading copyright management organization, Teddy Bautista, has been freed without bail after appearing before a High Court judge on charges of serious misappropriation of funds and disloyal administration on Sunday.

SGAE director general Enrique Loras and its financial director Ricardo Azcoaga Quincoces were also released without bail by the judge on similar charges, which carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison. All three have had their passports revoked and been forbidden from leaving the country.

Two other people also appeared before the High Court on Sunday in relation to the Civil Guard's so-called Operation Saga investigation into a scheme to divert millions of euros of SGAE funds via businesses that provided nonexistent services. Elena Vázquez and Celedonio Martín are both connected to Microgénesis, one of the main companies implicated in the plot.

The rest of those arrested- José Luis Rodríguez Neri, director general of the Sociedad de Digital de Autores y Editores (SDAE), a SGAE offshoot; his wife, María Antonia García Pombo, his sister-in-law Elena García and Microgénesis founding director Rafael Ramos- are expected to appear before the judge on Monday.

The SDAE, the digital arm of SGAE which is suspected of having served to divert funds to private companies over many years, was dissolved the day before Friday's arrests. The company has been accused of being illegal since its founding in 1999, but despite losing a final appeal in 2007, SGAE refused to close it until March this year when it announced that a new digital rights management system rendered the body unnecessary. Whether coincidence or not, the June 30 deadline for its final winding up coincided with internal elections and the arrival of the Civil Guard.

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Teddy Bautista leaves the High Court after being freed on bail. / CRISTÓBAL MANUEL

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