Judge Pedraz sends the Ausbanc and Manos Limpias case to Criminal Court for a trial date

The Public Prosecutor asks for 118 years for Luis Pineda and 25 for Miguel Bernad. Podemos and FACUA act as popular prosecutors.

Judge Pedraz sends the Ausbanc and Manos Limpias case to Criminal Court for a trial date

Judge Santiago Pedraz has sent over the open case against the leaders of Ausbanc and Manos Limpias, Luis Pineda and Miguel Bernad, and eight other people, to Criminal Court to set a date for a trial.

Due to Pineda currently being held in pretrial prison since April 2016, the Fourth Section of the civil registration (responsible for legal representations and guardianship, thus, responsible for judging over this case), ought to give priority to his trial above others. FACUA-Consumers in Action and political party Podemos are acting as acusación popular -or popular prosecutors, in accordance with article 125 of the Spanish Constitution- which allows important public interest groups, when there is a public interest, to appear as prosecutor. Their leading the accusation is by decision of Pedraz for being the first to appear on the case.

Even though the head of the Central Instruction Court 1 already issued the order for the opening of the oral trial last summer, it has not been until now that he has sent it to the Fourth Section -similar to Public Jury- since there were some resources from the accused that were pending resolution, according to sources consulted by the news agency Europa Press.

The magistrate concluded and raised the case to the Chamber after receiving all the pending documents, among those the ones in defense.

In the indictment, the public prosecutor of the National Court asked for 118 years and 5 months in prison for Luis Pineda. The prosecutor José Perals also asks for prison time for the other eight people for crimes of fraud, laundering, extortion, threats, unfair administration, grant fraud, crime against the Public Treasury, and participation in organised crime.

The prosecutor accused Pineda of participating in organised crime as leader, fraud, crime against the Public Treasury, money laundering, and 27 counts of extortion -16 as grand larceny and 7 as attempted extortion-. Moreover, he requests a fine of 10.3 million Euros solely for the crime of laundering and another 300,000 Euros for one count against the Public Treasury.

On their part, the secretary for Manos Limpias, Miguel Bernad, has asked for 25 years in prison for participating in organized crime and six counts of extortion -four as grand larceny and two as attempted extortion-; while his spokesperson and legal advisor, Virginia López Negrete, has requested 12 years, for participating in organised crime and three counts of extortion -two as grand larcent and one as attempted extortion-.

For Teresa Cuadrado, wife of Pineda and General Director of Trade and Consumer Affairs for political party Partido Popular (PP) in Madrid, the prosecutor asks for 22 years for organised crime, extortion, and laundering.

The prosecutor also requests the dissolution of Manos Limpias and all societies belonging to the Ausbanc group.

Smear campaign against FACUA and their spokesperson

In their statement, the prosecutor indicates how Luis Pineda "had a direct interest in acting so judicially Rubén Sánchez García, the spokesperson for FACUA, due to a personal feud held against him and with the aim of disgracing the image of said consumer organization, competitor of Ausbanc". To do so he used Manos Limpias, whose attempts at charging Sánchez were continuously rejected by the court.

"At the start of 2012, FACUA and Rubén Sánchez suffered through a smear campaign conducted by Ausbanc, Manos Limpias and Luis Pineda", states the written statement of the public prosecutor, which mentions one of the counts of defamation that the spokesperson for FACUA attained against Ausbanc, its boss, and its director of publicity, Luis Suárez Jordana, another of the accused.

For Suárez Jordana -who already has two sentences for fraud- the public prosecutor has asked for 16 years in prison for participation in organized crime and 3 extended counts of extortion.

Pineda, Suárez Jordana and Ausbanc have been charged with up to four counts of illegitimate intrusion of FACUA and Rubén Sánchez' right to honour as a consequence of the claims published for their incessant smear campaigns.