The Ministry of Justice has presented its case to the Public Prosecutor to whom it has requested the opening of an oral trial against former Orihuela Costa Councillor of the Coast, Martina Scheurer, Los Verdes, and Thomas Herteux, Operations Director of the Beach Bar franchisee Chiringuitos del Sol.
Although she continues to vehemently deny the accusations Scheurer is accused of displaying favouritism in the award of the chirunguitos tender to a non-Spanish company back in 2014, while Thomas Herteux is accused of fraud and the misuse of privileged information.
According to the Ministry, Scheurer and Herteux are said to have loaded the contract with a list of conditions that were designed to suit Chiringuitos del Sol, the main one being the inclusion of a requirement to hold the “Q quality tourism” accreditation, which, at the time, excluded the other two Spanish applicants from the tender.
Despite the possession of a “Q quality tourism” accreditation being the norm for the award of such contracts throughout Europe, rather bizarrely, the Ministry seems to be ignoring this major factor in reaching its judgement.
Of course there are many municipalities across Spain that require their Beach Bar Management companies to be in possession of the Q for Quality Accreditation. Orihuela is no different. The decision to include the condition was taken by a council committee made up of representatives from the coast, with members appointed by contracts and by the legal department.
Scheurer was simply a member. Not one of them was aware of the credentials held by any of the bidding companies. The inclusion of the Q for Quality Accreditation was nothing more than a decision made to ensure the provision of a superior service to Orihuela’s beachgoers.
However the prosecutors are still pursuing the action, asking for three and a half years in jail for the former councillor and her disqualification from holding public office for 10 years. For Herteux they seek one year and nine months in prison for fraud, as well as a further four years for the misuse of privileged information.
In view of the ongoing judicial process, what is especially baffling is the award last weekend of the new four year contract to run the 11 beach bars on the Orihuela Costa to Chiringuitos del Sol, welcomed by a large majority of Orihuela Costa residents, and seemingly a major snub to the local judiciary and its continuing investigation by the Orihuela Council.
For her part, Scheurer believes her conscience to be absolutely clear. “Everything was meticulously checked at the time to ensure compliance. The tender process was painstakingly followed and if the contract was awarded to Chirunguitos del Sol it was only because they were the best company for the job, as has proved to be the case once again.”