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CORRUPTION

Ex-Balearics party baroness goes on trial for embezzlement

Now-disbanded Unió Mallorquina (UM) political grouping was close ally of Popular Party

Maria Antonia Munar, pictured leaving the court on Tuesday.

Two cooperating witnesses on Tuesday testified at the corruption trial of two former top elected Balearic Islands officials that they served as front men in the purchase of an audiovisual production company that was later used to fraudulently obtain public money.

The two defendants, María Antònia Munar and Miquel Nadal, were both members of the now-disbanded Unió Mallorquina (UM) political grouping and are charged with embezzlement, falsifying documents and dereliction of their public duties.

For more than 30 years, Munar was one of the most prominent politicians in the Balearics. From 2007 to 2010, she served as speaker of the local regional parliament. Nadal, her right hand-man, served as vice president of the City Council in Palma de Mallorca.

Prosecutors claim the two defendants helped approve some 240,000 euros in contracts to the production company in which they had been part owners but which was represented by the front men. One of these was Víctor García, who was married to the cousin of Munar’s husband.

García and Miquel Sard testified on the second day of the trial that they agreed to list their names as co-owners of the company Video U at Nadal’s behest. One of their goals was to obtain a license from the regional government for a local TDT channel.

For more than 30 years, Munar was one of the most prominent politicians in the Balearics

Sard, whose cousin is married to Nadal, said the company also received money from the Balearics government to produce a radio program that was never broadcast. He said Nadal gave him an envelope containing 300,000 euros that came in part from the former city councilor and Munar to purchase Video U.

Luisa Almiñana, who served as another partner in the production company, said the UM hired up to 14 people to work at Video U but who turned out to be ghost employees. The employees were in fact performing work for the party or the City Council, said Almiñana, who has also been charged in the case.

After she was indicted, Almiñana said she received pressure from UM officials not to cooperate with authorities during their investigation. The UM was closely aligned with the Popular Party, which gave it three seats in the 33-member City Council in Palma de Mallorca.