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Former exec at royalties agency jailed after spending €39,000 on prostitutes

First sentences in huge 2011 SGAE corruption scandal handed down

Former SGAE executive Pedro Farré arrives at the High Court.
Former SGAE executive Pedro Farré arrives at the High Court. EFE

The former corporate relations director of the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (SGAE), Spain’s biggest copyright collection society, spent more than €39,000 of the organization’s money on prostitutes over six months between 2008 and 2009, according to the National High Court.

Pedro Farré has been given a 30-month jail term after being found guilty of misappropriation of funds and forging documents for using his company credit card to run up a bill of €39,552 between November 2008 and May 2009. The court also handed a one-year prison sentence to Ricardo Azcoaga, SGAE’s former finance director, for failing to report Farré’s activities.

The sentences are the first to be handed down in a Civil Guard investigation into illicit activities at SGAE in 2011 that resulted in the arrests of several board members, including chairman Teddy Bautista. Bautista and the others are accused of involvement in a scheme to divert tens of thousands of euros through companies that provided non-existent services.

Farré denied the charges during his trial, saying he had “never” used his corporate credit card for his “own benefit” and only used it “to attend strategic events.” Farré described his job as “building bridges” between SGAE and “environments” that the organization considered important. “One of my jobs was to have breakfast, or lunch, or dinner with people the SGAE wanted to negotiate with,” he said.

But Farré’s testimony was contradicted by several witnesses, among them the owner of a number of brothels Farré visited frequently, usually alone, among them Private, in the Madrid dormitory town of Alcalá de Henares.

“Pedro Farré visited this club, drank, and bought drinks for all the girls there,” reads the sentence. “Whenever he visited the club, he would rent a room. He would go in around 5pm and emerge at 5am the next morning, having consumed champagne and other drinks, and having had several girls sent in.”

Another witness told the court that the club had a copy of Farré’s identity card so as to be able to confirm his signature. Farré reportedly spent more than €2,000 in one day. The manager of a hotel that Farré used for encounters with prostitutes told the court that he would sometimes refuse to swipe his credit card, “given the state that he would get into.”

It is utterly preposterous for the accused to claim that he was in these locations until the early hours in any kind of professional capacity”

The court’s ruling noted that Farré provided falsified receipts for meals and other items to SGAE.

“It is utterly preposterous for the accused to claim that he was in these locations until the early hours of the morning in any kind of professional capacity related to copyright management,” concludes the court’s sentence.

SGAE attained notoriety a decade ago after hitting the headlines for its aggressive approach to collecting fees on behalf of Spanish musicians and publishers, and was accused of exceeding its remit by infiltrating private weddings to check whether fees had been paid for music being played there.