Six years for ex-NGO head who embezzled 7.5 million euros

Two other former Anesvad chiefs get 21-month sentences

Archive image of the ex-president of Anesvad, José Luis Gamarra. / LUIS TEJIDO (EFE)

A Bizkaia court on Wednesday sentenced the former president of the NGO Anesvad, José Luis Gamarra, to six years in prison for misappropriation of funds. It also ordered him to pay 3.2 million euros in compensation to the organization – the exact amount he has not returned.

The judges also sentenced the ex-financial director and the ex-director general, Francisco Martínez Fernández and José Miguel Sustacha Olabe, to 21 months in prison for embezzlement and falsifying business documents. Because the punishments are of less than two years and neither has a criminal record, they will not serve jail time.

The three men headed up the Bilbao-based NGO, which specializes in organizing health and social development projects in developing countries, from 2002 to 2006 over which time they were accused of appropriating 7.5 million euros of funds received from donors.

The court considered it proven that Gamarra kept a series of “open and operating” bank accounts during his tenure “without any of them being reflected in the Anesvad books in spite of the fact that they were used, at least the oldest ones, to receive donations for Foundation projects.”

The ruling said Gamarra used the money in the accounts to award bonuses and give interest-free loads to Anesvad employees, buy a car for his niece, pay for part of his first home, pay personal expenses and make investments.

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