Forest fires burn thousands of hectares throughout Spain every year and produce, in the most extreme cases, irreparable environmental and human damage. However, a specific group of companies were able to see a business opportunity in these catastrophes.
This is the self – called Group 6 , a criminal organization that for two decades dominated public contracting of aircraft for firefighting in Spain . The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor calculates that the total of the agreements would have exceeded 151 million euros .
Founded in 2001 by a group of companies in the aviation sector -among which are Avialsa, Grupo FAASA, Trabajos Aéreos Extremeños, Grupo Martínez Ridao, Espejo and Cegisa- , Group 6 agreed to share the fleet of firefighting aircraft and distribute Spain geographically, while with the competitions they distributed them on a rotating basis . As published this Sunday by the newspaper El Español , the organization had the support of officials and politicians from the PP, PSOE and CIU of Andalusia, the Valencian Community, Galicia, the Balearic Islands, Castilla-La Mancha or Catalonia throughout the entire time it was active. .
In order to be awarded the contracts, the members of the group reached clandestine agreements through which they managed to get the administrations to accept their prices – much higher than those of other entities – in exchange for deliveries of cash and the payment of gifts of all kinds, from hunts to trips .
Among the contracts that the Prosecutor’s Office has investigated is that of the Andalusian PSOE in 2010 for the transfer by plane of José Antonio Griñán , president of the Board at that time, to a party act in Roquetas de Mar. It has also followed the trail of the gifts received by some public officials, such as the former Valencian Minister of the Interior, Serafín Castellano (PP), who received “no less than 167,177.02 euros” in the form of spa sessions and specific cash deliveries, among others.
Years after it began to investigate the fraudulent contracts of the fire cartel, the trial has not yet begun and, since there is no final ruling, the companies that make it up have continued to present themselves and win most of the public tenders in Spain. .
The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office requests prison sentences for businessmen, disqualification from obtaining subsidies and the payment of millionaire compensation . Likewise, it has requested that the members of Group 6 be prohibited from contracting with the public sector for a period of 15 years.