CORRUPTION

Judge unblocks funds allowing Gürtel ringleader to post bail

Kickbacks-for-contracts kingpin Correa has 400,000 euros in a Bankia savings account

High Court Judge Pablo Ruz has ordered a bank account belonging to the mother of Francisco Correa - the alleged lynchpin of the Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts corruption ring - to be unfrozen, which would allow for the payment of his 200,000-euro bail, judicial sources said Friday.

The judge's ruling followed a request from Correa's lawyers to free up to 400,000 euros deposited in an account at savings bank Bankia, which is in the process of being nationalized by the government.

The money had been frozen in the account on the order of Madrid Supreme Court Judge Antonio Pedreira, who was previously in charge of the case. Ruz gave the order to free up the account after receiving a report from the tax authorities that verified the funds in it did not come from illegal sources.

Pedreira had set bail at 85 million euros to reflect possible fines Correa faces for money-laundering and tax evasion, and because he was a flight risk. Bail was progressively lowered, given that Correa has been in jail since February 6, 2009.

At press time, penitentiary sources said the order to release Correa had not yet been received.

The Gürtel case, originally investigated by now-disbarred Judge Baltasar Garzón, focuses on a massive political corruption network encompassing Popular Party (PP) administrations in the regions of Madrid, Valencia, Galicia and Castilla y León.   

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