Spain: Socialist party and government under investigation for corruption scandal regarding purchase of masks during the pandemic

Koldo García, former advisor to President Pedro Sánchez's inner circle, was charged with taking a commission on fraudulent contracts with a medical supplies company.

The Spanish government is being investigated for a corruption scandal for illegally awarding several contracts for the purchase of masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the center of the investigation is Koldo García Izaguirre, who was an advisor and confidant of José Luis Ábalos, minister of development and secretary of organization of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) between 2017 and 2021. In turn, Ábalos is part of the trusted inner circle of current President Pedro Sánchez.

According to the investigation of the operation, known as Delorme, the advisor to the former socialist minister took illegal commissions after mediating between mask companies and several socialist administrations during the pandemic. The Ministries of Development and the Interior are affected, in addition to two autonomous regions governed until 2023 by the socialist party: the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands. Along with a former advisor to the socialist party, the Spanish Civil Guard arrested another 20 people, of whom 15 were released after testifying. Among them is also the brother of the former socialist advisor, Joseba García Izaguirre, and several businessmen.

The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office believes that Koldo García acted as an intermediary between several health equipment companies that the Ministry of Public Works, the Ministry of the Interior. The governments of the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands gave these companies public contracts valuing roughly $54 million. Of this sum, only $43 million went to the companies. García is suspected of collecting illegal commissions worth more than $10 million, which he used to purchase real estate.

García: Former driver for public works minister and advisor to the state-owned railway company

Koldo García was born in Barakaldo, Spain, in 1970. According to El Confidencial, he worked as a security guard at the beginning of the last decade, where he provided services for politicians and trade unionists in northern Spain. His political career began when he obtained an elected position in a town in the Spanish region of Navarra, representing PSOE.

He has a criminal record for an assault in 2011. He was part of some activist platforms, which is why current President Pedro Sánchez dedicated some praise to him in 2014, which remains public and visible on the socialist leader's Facebook page.

Koldo García has a close relationship with the socialist leadership. His career in politics began as an elected official in a small town in the Navarra region. Thanks to his relationships, he became part of José Luis Ábalos’ inner circle.

When Ábalos became minister of public works in 2018, he gave García a position as his driver and personal escort. Some Spanish media reports describe Koldo as the "shadow" of former minister Ábalos. It was Koldo García who drove Ábalos to the Barajas Airport in Madrid to the controversial meeting with an official of Nicolás Maduro's regime, Delcy Rodríguez, who was banned from entering the European Union.

Upon becoming head of the ministry of transportation in 2020, the PSOE politician took Koldo García with him, this time as main advisor to his cabinet. Shortly after, Ábalos gave him a position as a director of Renfe Mercancías, the Spanish state railway company.

The Spanish government denies having knowledge of corruption

The spokespersons for the government and PSOE claimed not to have knowledge of the corruption scandal for which Koldo García was charged. The government chose to distance itself from these events and appears to be ready to drop former Minister Ábalos, who left his position in 2021.