State Attorney Dolores Ripoll.
State Attorney Dolores Ripoll.Vincent Mari

Dolores Ripoll, State attorney, had her minute of fame in 2016 when she intervened in the Noos case and defended the infanta Cristina from the accusation of Clean Hands: “The motto ‘We are all Treasury’ is limited to the field of advertising”, he pointed out in reference to the fact that only the State Attorney, dependent on the Ministry of Justice, could accuse in name of the Tax Agency. Ripoll is today being investigated for the suspicious concessions in the Balearic Islands Ports, a case that has raised a tinderbox in her department, since it was a subordinate of this State attorney who first stood up, in 2018, against one of those decisions.

The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office and the Investigating Court Number 3 of Palma broke up the business of port concessions in the Balearic Islands in August 2020 when they were beginning to expire, and when the competition’s attempt to manage yacht clubs ran into opposition from the islands . There was a political consensus to extend in favor of the same successful bidder the Club Náutico de Ibiza (CNI), whose first concession dates back to 1927, or that of the Club Náutico de Palma. They are entities rooted in Balearic society and the parties want everything to remain the same with the argument that they have a social purpose. The companies that aspired to obtain that Ibiza concession resorted and won in the contentious process, but as they continued to encounter obstacles to make it effective, the Prosecutor’s Office entered the criminal jurisdiction to investigate.

Last week, the judge Martina Mora lifted part of the summary secrecy of the award of Ibiza: “It was not the result of the application of the principles of transparency, competition, objectivity and legality that must govern public contracting, but rather It was an arbitrary, unfair and unlawful decision.”

Port of Ibiza, this Saturday.
Port of Ibiza, this Saturday.Vincent Mari

The judge is investigating Juan Gual de Torella, former president of the Balearic Islands Port Authority, who resigned in this case and is considered close to President Francina Armengol (PSOE). But she also includes state attorney Dolores Ripoll, legal adviser to the Port Authority’s board of directors when the concessions were awarded. Although she did not decide anything, she did write the legal reports on which the award was based. The judge points out that the investigated charges had “the essential and concerted support of Ripoll and those responsible for the Club Náutico de Ibiza (in addition to other members of the board of directors and political authorities) so that it was this club and not another who continued to exploit the dock”. This newspaper tried, without success, to obtain Ripoll’s version.

The criteria for awarding the concession prioritized rootedness, in a way that the award could only fall to the Club Náutico de Ibiza (CNI). The specifications valued this merit with twice the points than the sum of all the others. The court ruled that the inclusion of said criterion entailed a “disguised direct adjudication”, and that the principle of equality was violated.

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The judge points out that the State attorney was the ideologue of those clauses and of repeating the adjudication when there were already rulings against: “Ripoll’s actions were decisive for the counselors, oblivious to the ruling and trusting in the legal explanations offered which, in their eyes, was the highest legal authority of said council, to vote in favor of the president’s proposal.

In May 2018, after the first sentence against the award of the dock to the CNI, the then president of the Port Authority, Gual de Torrella, brought a new favorable report to a board of directors “in an attempt to have the new award in favor” of the CNI, but it did not go ahead “given the opposition of the directors Enrique Braquehais [abogado del Estado] and Jesus Gese [ingeniero de Puertos del Estado]… after a tense debate”, according to the judge.

Braqueais was then the Number Three of the State Bar in the Balearic Islands and depended on Ripoll. He sat on the board (a way of collecting allowances that many state attorneys and government advisers have) and she was the legal adviser. Braqueais voted and Ripoll did not.

With his refusal, Braquehais had lit a fuse that, two years later, exploded in Ripoll. Braqueais resigned days later from the Port Authority and was later transferred to the Tax Agency in the Balearic Islands. The advisor proposed by Ports, engineer Gesé, also resigned a month later “after receiving from his superiors, through Begoña Ballano, then director of State Ports, the instruction to vote in favor of the award to the CNI or not attend the Council. There are no objective reasons based on law for said investigation, giving off signs of arbitrariness in it “according to the judicial report.

The Balearic Islands Port Authority and State Ports, in agreement with the public authorities, did everything possible to extend the concession to the CNI, according to the judicial investigation. In the State Attorney they defend Ripoll. They consider that, if anything, it contributed to giving legal form to a legitimate claim, that the Ibiza yacht club, a non-profit entity, had an advantage over the private marinas and that the parties in the Balearic Islands requested it.

The head of the Criminal Department of the State Lawyer, Rosa Seoane, has assumed the defense of Ripoll, according to legal sources. In cases in which the legal profession appears as an accusation, she cannot defend officials, but she does when, after a first analysis, she considers that there is no crime. Although the Prosecutor’s Office and the Lawyer’s Office usually go together as an accusation in corruption cases, in this matter they are at odds. “For the State Attorney it has been a full-fledged aggression,” says a member of the body. Another adds: “Using this criterion, any State attorney can end up on the bench for making an advisory report.”

The judge also investigates whether the president of the APB offered the 12 miles Sports Club, a competitor of the CNI, “gifts, rewards, favors or compensation of any kind” if they ceased their claims or if it was that company that asked for favors in exchange for not interfere with adjudication.

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