Armengol admits to having had contacts with Koldo, but never wants to talk about masks | Spain

“I am not here as President of Congress,” Francina Armengol quickly clarified this Monday at the start of her appearance before the committee of the same House that is investigating the purchase of masks during the pandemic. It was the first time that a person holding the third authority of the state was subjected to a similar interrogation, in the case of the socialist Armengol in her capacity as former President of the Balearic Islands, a community that bought a batch of masks worth 3.7 million to the company sponsored by former Transport Ministry advisor Koldo García, who is accused of charging illegal commissions for it. The congress president admitted to having maintained some contact with García, but assured that the purchase of masks would never be discussed.

Under constant fire from the PP since the case broke out, Armengol had appeared on March 5 to explain to the press about her former government's relations with the company Soluciones de Gestión, the center of the alleged corrupt plot and which masks delivered. of lower quality than agreed. Then the President of Congress left one question unresolved: who recommended that company to his manager in the spring of 2020.

The matter was cleared up this Monday before Armengol appeared. One of the witnesses who preceded him before the committee was his government's former General Director of Health Manuel Palomino, who reported that in April 2020 he received a call from the Ministry of Public Works switchboard from an individual he does not remember asking him if he wanted to participate in a “massive, sizable, important” purchase of masks and asking him from Garcia's contact. Both he and later the then Minister of Economy and Tourism, Iago Negueruela, and Armengol himself explained that they urgently needed this material for civilian use in order to start de-escalation as quickly as possible and not ruin the summer tourist season . Palomino added that he communicated with García via WhatsApp and put him in touch with Management Solutions.

Armengol was already healthy before the questions started and said: “I want to be honest. I have had some contact with Mr García, he was an advisor to the Minister of Transport and I do not remember what I spoke to him. What I can say with complete clarity is that I have never spoken to that man about contracts with any company because I have never done that with anyone.”

She repeated it several times during the appearance before the delegates' questions and with increasing emphasis: “I have been President of the Consell de Mallorca for four years and President of the Balearic Islands for eight years and I have never, ever given an order to anyone to “to hire a specific company.” He even emphasized it to the parliamentarian of Més, integrated in Sumar, Vicenç Vidal, who was a member of his government: “You have been my advisor, you know it perfectly.” Armengol argued that no president is aware of the administrative files of each contract and stated that the person in this case has now studied it in order to provide explanations to the committee. She even resorted to her status as a professional pharmacist to justify not being involved in these cases.

The appearance of the state's third authority was preceded by a tense confrontation, sometimes with shouting, between PP deputy José Vicente Marí Bosó and former councilor Negueruela. Without going so far, there were also very hard moments with the questions to Armengol from the popular Elías Bendodo and the Vox member Jorge Campos. Both repeatedly accused her of lying, of 'discrediting' the position she holds and of acting as a 'guarantor of a corrupt plot'. Bendodo even went as far as to directly accuse her of a crime of malfeasance and even assured that if she had not been arrested, she would now be under investigation, while none of the officials in her government who made the decisions in the case , was the culprit. subject to accusations by the judicial body hearing the case.

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Faced with Campos's insinuations, the socialist leader rebelled: “I am not involved in corruption in any way, I deeply hate political corruption, I have been fighting that scourge for years.” The Vox rep also joked that Armengol had admitted his sadness during the worst moments of the pandemic, and she replied again: “Well, I cried, I shed a lot of tears, it was the worst time of my life.”

Delegates asked him about two issues in particular: the three-year delay in claiming a refund of 2.6 million euros to the company after it was determined that the masks were not FFP2 as promised, and that, after the discovery of non-compliance, its Administration will sign a certificate indicating normal receipt of the material. Regarding the former, both Armengol and Negueruela previously alluded to the collapse of the government due to the pandemic and indicated that they had four years to do so. And the two accused the current Balearic PP government of dropping the company's claim, an issue that the Socialists They have filed a complaint with a court in Palma. As for the certificate, they detracted from its value, claiming it was merely an acknowledgment that the merchandise had been received and not an endorsement from the company, as PP and Vox denounced.

Vidal, from Més, and Francesc-Marc Álvaro, from ERC, avoided direct accusations. The latter even warned from the beginning that he did not doubt the word of the President of Congress and that all he intended to do was to establish her possible political responsibility. But neither stopped investigating aspects of the case they considered unclear. When asked by both, Armengol stated that no official had informed him that Civil Guard agents had gone to the Ministry of Health in July 2022 to demand the file.

Armengol did not hesitate to accuse the PP of “constructing a false narrative” and attacking her solely because of her status as president of Congress. And he ended with a call: “I ask to stop this way of doing politics. In the interests of the institutions, of democracy and of this country.”

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