Spanish government’s Saudi weapons scandal


This 24 October 2018 video from Spain says about itself:

Spain won’t stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia – as pro-independence parties and left-wing Podemos criticize the links between the Spanish royal family and the Saudi monarchy. The Spanish Congress held a tense debate on how to react to the controversial death of a Saudi journalist in Istanbul. But the parliamentary session also led to yet another discussion on Catalonia –with the words ‘coup d’etat’ and ‘shooting’ among the words heard in the chamber. Catalan News also shows you what it’s like to live in a 2.6 square meter flat.

Translated from Dutch daily De Volkskrant today:

Spanish Prime Minister under fire for controversial arms exports to Saudi Arabia

A Spanish court investigates the large-scale payment of bribes by a semi-public company in the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia. Between 1992 and 2014, at least 80 million euros in kickbacks are said to have been paid. At the same time, Spanish Prime Minister Sánchez is under fire in parliament because he does not want to stop arms exports to the Saudis aafter the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

By Maartje Bakker

The central player in the new corruption scandal is Defex, a company with 51 percent Spanish state ownership and for the remaining 49 percent owned by private arms exporters. Over the years, at least sixteen unsavory deals totaling around € 80 million are said to have been closed, reports El País daily. The Spanish newspaper bases its revelations on justice department documents.

Swiss authorities reported earlier to the Spanish National Court that Defex made illegal payments, both to people who have good contacts with the Saudi regime and to their own company boss. The bribes are said to have reached their destination via a ‘complex system of companies’.

The Spanish courts have had Defex in their sights for some time: in 2014 it was discovered that the company had sold weapons to police in Angola for a far too high amount. The millions of extra paid euros ended up in the pockets of Angolan officials and Spanish bosses. That affair led to Defex being dissolved.

Headaches

From the moment Pedro Sánchez took office as prime minister, arms exports to Saudi Arabia caused him headaches. Initially, his Minister of Defense announced that a delivery of four hundred laser-controlled bombs, agreed by the previous government, would not take place. Saudi Arabia responded by canceling an order of five corvettes.

… [After pressure by the Saudi regime, the Trump regime and other NATO governments], suddenly Spain promised to provide the four hundred bombs anyway.

Even now Sánchez does not want to stop this delivery, he said Wednesday morning in parliament. He sees it as his duty to act ‘in the strategic interests of Spain’. The PM is supported by the [right-wing] PP [ex-government party, deposed because of corruption], still the largest party in the country.

However, there is sharp criticism from the left. The leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias (in theory Sánchez’ best political friend), thinks the government should look for another buyer for the Cádiz frigates. It would be better still if the Andalusian shipyards were to focus on non-military shipbuilding, according to the Podemos leader.

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