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FRAUD SCANDAL

UGT head in Andalusia steps down as fraud inquiry grows

Regional government investigates whether labor union illegally received 7.5 million euros

Following a string of allegations that the UGT labor union may have illegally gotten money from the Andalusia government, the head of the UGT regional chapter, Francisco Fernández Sevilla, resigned on Friday.

His resignation comes a day after the regional government of Susana Díaz announced that it was reviewing some 30 files containing information regarding 7.5 million euros in subsidies and aid to the UGT’s chapter in Andalusia over the past years.

Fernández Sevilla called national UGT secretary general Cándido Méndez to announce that he was stepping down so as not to tarnish the image of the local chapter, labor union sources said.

“With this decision, the organization can continue to work normally,” Fernández Sevilla said in a subsequent letter presented to Méndez.

A new secretary general for the Andalusia chapter will be elected during a special meeting on January 9.

According to a preliminary review by Díaz’s Socialist government, the UGT chapter may have to return some 1.8 billion euros it received in 2009. So far the UGT has returned 25,000 euros it received in subsidies for a lunch and meeting it organized at the Seville Fair.

Regional government officials said that they will file criminal charges against any UGT official who is suspected of receiving money illegally.

The allegations surfaced after the UGT chapter announced layoffs for 159 workers and furloughs for another 57.

The investigation being carried out by the Andalusia government focuses on the years 2009 and 2010 when Manuel Pastrana headed the UGT chapter. Fernández Sevilla at the time was part of Pastrana’s team of close advisors.

A separate investigation into the UGT is being carried by Seville Judge Mercedes Alaya as part of her ongoing inquiry into alleged embezzlement from a special layoff fund set up by the Andalusian government to help ailing business pay severance for their workers.

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