Spain is set to shake up internet gambling this week, helping it capture much-needed tax income as newly licensed firms slug it out to win over the country's growing crowd of online poker and sports betting fans. The heavily indebted government will award licences to internet betting operators for the first time on Friday. Revenues in the sector are estimated to be over 800 million euros ($1 billion) in 2014, according to gaming association Jdigital. gaming has so far been dominated by foreign players, with Spanish companies, including betting giant Codere, only now set to enter the fray. Unlike some other markets, Spain has not set a limit on the number of licences it will award. So far, 59 companies have applied, with only a small handful who have not met all the requirements likely to be turned down, according to sources familiar with the process. London-listed firms Sportingbet and Bwin.party digital, already active in Spain's unregulated market, are expected to be among the main contenders, as are Ladbrokes, 888 and Betfair. "The sector is on fire, and it looks like if you are not online, there is no future. But we will have to see who makes it through, because online businesses can be expensive to get off the ground. The business is based on marketing," said Fernando Henar, president of CEJ, a Spanish organisation for bingo companies. Most online gambling will not attract taxes on individual bets but firms will instead face a gross profit tax of between 10 percent and 25 percent. Spain's outgoing central bank chief warned on Wednesday that the country's tax income may fall short, as it struggles to refinance 98 billion euros of debt and fund a deficit of 52 billion euros. Although the amount of tax likely to be raised from online betting will be small in comparison, it is still a useful source of income in a country where a love of sports and of football in particular has drawn gambling groups in the last few years, with participation fuelled by the growth of tablet computers and smart phones. Across Spain's gambling sector as a whole, the amount of money played rose by more than 7 billion euros from 2008 to 2010, standing at 27.3 billion euros in that year, the most recent official data showed. However, the economic crisis is making gamblers more cautious. Sportingbet, whose main European markets are in Spain and Greece, said on Wednesday that average bet size in the region had halved over the past two years to 9 pounds ($14). TAX GRAB Under intense pressure to rein in its deficit, the Spanish government has already raked in some cash by levying retrospective taxes on existing operators, citing decades-old decrees. Keen to ensure they qualify for the new licences, companies including Sportingbet and Bwin - sponsor of top Spanish football club Real Madrid - have agreed to pay around 70 million euros of back taxes so far. For Sportingbet and Bwin, Spain represents a chunky slice of revenue, and even those with limited exposure to date regard it as an important market with growth potential. That has helped ease the pain of the back-tax grab - a move Spain has described as separate from the licensing process, but which several sources familiar with the sector said left companies with no choice in order to qualify. The tax demands landed after the Conservative party ousted Spain's Socialist government in a landslide election last November, just as the euro zone crisis deepened. Companies had originally started paying tax in May 2011, when the new gaming law was first passed, but, under pressure from domestic operators, authorities later asked companies to cough up retrospective taxes, citing decrees from as far back as 1966 and 1977. "It is a shame this was done to take advantage of the opportunity of licences being launched," said Albert Agustinoy, a lawyer with DLA Piper in Madrid. "It damages the perception of Spain as a trustworthy place to do business." Fighting the move would have led to lengthy court battles most saw as not worth waging, Agustinoy added, though analysts at Peel Hunt said this week that some groups could yet challenge the tax authorities.
Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Sunday, 27 May 2012
José Manuel Hidalgo refused to be taken to hospital until he started to turn yellow A 45 year old man from Fuentes de León in Badajoz
José Manuel Hidalgo, ate some mushrooms to show they were not poisonous, and ended up in intensive care. It happened last Sunday during an open day being held in the village, which had been proceeded by a day of mushroom collecting and display. The victim got into an argument with other locals as to how lethal wild mushrooms could be, with a poster warning that as little as 20 grams could be fatal. José Manuel did not believe it, and suddenly to prove his point, started to eat the ‘amanita phalloides’ mushroom. On the second bite he showed symptoms of being drunk, and continued to claim the mushroom was not fatal. An ambulance was called but it took considerable argument before the patient finally agreed to be taken to hospital in Zafra, Badajoz. By this time he had turned yellow and started to vomit. He spent two days in the intensive care unit, and finally was allowed out onto the ward on Tuesday afternoon amid concerns that his liver may have suffered permanent damage.
The condition of a 25 year old British woman who fell from the sixth floor of a hotel in Magaluf, Calvìa on Friday afternoon is said to progressing favourably in the Intensive Care Unit in the Son Espases Hospital. It happened at 18.15 on Friday in the Hotel Barracuda, in Avenida Notari Alemany, when the women fell to the ground from the sixth floor. She was taken by intensive care ambulance and was admitted in a serious condition, with head injuries and other injuries, but her progress is good and she is now breathing without assistance. The reason for the fall remains unclear but it happened in the interior zone of the hotel, in the area of the swimming pool.
Friday, 25 May 2012
The member of the CGPJ who brought the vote, Gómez Benítez, was then asked to resign by seven others in the committee. The Chairman of the Supreme Court, and the head of General Council for Judicial Power, the body which oversees the judiciary in Spain, Carlos Dívar, will remain in those poses are only a minority of other members of the General Council called on him to resign in an extraordinary meeting on Thursday afternoon. He had been denounced by one of the members of the General Council, Gómez Benítez, who said Dívar had been misusing public funds for long weekend trips to Marbella with his seven bodyguards. It was established that some 20 such trips were carried out by Dívar, all at public expense. Carlos Dívar claimed that the costs were ‘perfectly documented and justified’ and indeed went as to far as to describe the reports of 36,000 € spent. The Prosecutors Office decided to archive the case, saying that no crime had been carried out regarding the misuse of public funds, noting Dívar paid for some items on some of his trips, indicating that he had no intention to ‘feather his nest’. In the vote in the General Council on Thursday calling for the resignation of Díver there were only five votes in favour, out of a total 21. What’s more seven of the others even then called for the resignation of Gómez Benítez, accusing him of a lack of loyalty. However one result from the case is that a commission will study new controls on travel expenses.
The group, Ansar Al Din, talks about its plans in an internal document intercepted by the Spanish State Security Forces. Granada, Valencia, Sevilla and Córdoba, are named as terrorist objectives for Al Qaeda. The Jihadist group, Ansar Al Din, has released an internal document which said the cities ‘which were governed by the Muslims’ must be liberated and Al-Andalus must be restored. Spanish State Security Forces are giving credence to the threat after they intercepted the internal communication. After study they concluded that Spain remains one of the main targets of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Cadena Ser reports that after the fall of Gadaffi, the Ansar Al Din terrorist group made off which a large quantity of Libyan weapons and had become stronger in Mali and Timbuktu. Many witnesses claim the group has been responsible for the assassination of hundreds of people. According to the security services in Algeria, the group is getting funds from France and Canada in particular.
El Mundo reports that Gibraltar patrols went to stop three fishing boats from working on Wednesday night at 9pm, and that a Royal Navy boat was close at hand. The Navy vessel sent radio messages to the Guardia Civil saying that they should leave the area. Fishermen’s sources say when they turned on the lights to throw out the nets ‘several Royal Gibraltar Police patrols passed close by at great speed several times’ and that this had provoked ‘moments of great tension and even danger’. There was a slight collision between two patrol boats, one from Gibraltar and the other from the Guardia Civil. The Guardia Civil then sent several ships and a helicopter to the scene to protect the fishermen, as the Spanish Government had instructed. Gibraltar considers that there was an incursion by the Spanish fishermen and the Guardia Civil into waters they say are their own.
One person has died and two more people are missing after an explosion in Moraleja, Cáceres, in an oil press in the locality. The Red Cross reports there are two injured of ‘diverse consideration’. The cause of the blast at Industrias Oléicolas Sierra de Gata on Thursday morning remains a mystery. Firemen were working at the scene in the afternoon trying control the fire, but they had been unable to reach the zone of the explosion, where the three workers are to have been. Security cordons were established at the entrance to the company and also at a petrol station just 100m a way. Esteban Habala from the Provincial Fire Service said that the fire was under ‘a certain control’ and is not expected to get worse. He said it was necessary to try and bring down the temperature in the zone of the explosion, and said there was a lot inflammable liquid burning, and as there were oil deposits underground, he could not rule out new explosions. He said that more than 20,000 litres of oil had burned, and his men were working with prudence. The President of the Junta de Extremadura, José Antonio Monago, has travelled to the scene to see what is happening for himself.
THE word corralito does not need translating to Spaniards. They know it means the partial freezing of bank accounts
THE word corralito does not need translating to Spaniards. They know it means the partial freezing of bank accounts that afflicted Argentina as money fled the country a decade ago. That is what makes it so frightening. It should not happen in a solvent country like Spain. But as the spectre of a Greek euro exit is haunting Europe, Spanish banks have become a big concern. Ministers have had to deny the corralito risk. Nerves are fraying. Shares in Bankia, a part-nationalised bank, yo-yoed wildly after reports, later denied, that clients were taking their money out of Spain’s fourth-largest lender. “I’ve been working since I was 13, and if they take it away I’ll kill someone,” said a Bankia client who collared Cristóbal Montoro, the budget minister, on the street. In this section Tremors and rumbles »The corralito risk The gravedigger’s victory The sound of music The feeling’s mutual Reprints Soraya Sáenz de Santamaria, the deputy prime minister, appealed for “responsibility”. Many cursed Paul Krugman, a Nobel-prize-winning economist—though all he did was point out that a euro-zone meltdown might involve Spain imposing corralito-style controls. In spite of all the anxiety, deposits across the banking system grew in March. It is Bankia’s shareholders, rather than its account-holders, who should be upset. Those who believed the 2010 merger of seven savings banks, or cajas, laden with toxic property would transmute into a solid new bank were wrong. It was an unhappy marriage: on May 23rd Luis de Guindos, Spain’s finance minister, told parliament that the government would inject at least €9 billion ($11 billion) into the ailing lender. The worries about banks go deeper. They have played for time by refinancing loans to struggling property developers ever since the 2008 housing bust. Two rounds of provisioning ordered this year, totalling €82 billion, may not be enough, though the government is expected to provide €15 billion of the necessary funds. On May 21st the government appointed two external valuers to scrutinise the banks’ assets. Despite 24% unemployment, Spanish households have an excellent record of not defaulting on residential mortgages. Even so, they may conclude that still more capital is needed. Bad loans rose to an 18-year high of 8.4% in March. And with Spain’s economy expected to contract this year and next (see chart), pressure will increase. The Institute of International Finance estimates Spanish banks might need €50 billion to €60 billion of fresh capital, equivalent to around 5% of GDP. Higher estimates go above €100 billion. Spain’s sovereign debt is already under fierce pressure. Worries about the banking system, unemployment and growth have pushed ten-year bond yields above 6%. This in turn makes it prohibitively expensive to recapitalise the banks. Spain’s credibility has been dented by an upward revision of last year’s budget deficit, from 8.5% of GDP to 8.9%. Big-spending regional governments were to blame. They must now find huge savings. Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, is committed to a fiscal adjustment worth 5.9% of GDP in just two years. If carried out, this will deepen the recession. Is there no end to Spain’s p
Monday, 21 May 2012
ex Mayor of Casares in Málaga, Juan Sánchez from IU, left prison at Alhaurín de la Torre at 7,20pm on Friday night. He had entered prison last Tuesday on the orders of the Instruction Judge in the Majestic Case being heard in the First Instance and Instruction Court Two in Estepona, Oscar López Bermejo. He faces charges of money laundering through real estate deals. The ex Mayor left the jail without making any statement, and it is unknown whether he will remain in his current position of Councillor for Housing in the Casares Town Hall. He left the prison after his family and friends amassed bail of 200,000 €. The Majestic Operation, which is being carried out jointly between the National Police money laundering squad and the Guardia Civil has led to eleven arrests so far. The latest arrests are of a German woman who was arrested in La Línea after arriving at Gibraltar Airport, accused of money laundering and belonging to a criminal organisation. She was sent to jail with bail set at 70,000 €. Secondly a South African was arrested on Thursday when he arrived at Málaga airport, when returning from Switzerland. He was sent to jail with 50,000 € bail and has until May 22 to deposit the money. Their passports have been taken and they are not allowed to leave Spain.
A 71 year man has died and a 73 year old woman was seriously injured when part of the load of lorry carrying construction materials along the N-340 in Torremolinos fell upon them. The couple were walking near Aquapark. It’s not known how the lorry lost part of its load at 10,40am on Monday morning, but it is clear that the load slipped and some of it fell from the lorry and fell to the pavement hitting the couple. The Local Police and health crews certified the man’s death when they arrived at the scene and the woman was taken urgently to the Clinico Universitario in Málaga where she has been admitted in a serious condition with diverse trauma, head injuries and a broken tibia. She is expected to undergo surgery later today.
Take the money and run. A worker at a branch of the La Caixa bank in Vilagarcía de Arousa, Pontevedra, has fled from the bank after taking a million €. The man, Santiago Pelayo Sanmartín, worked in the debt collecting department, chasing clients who were late paying. He escaped in a company car from an estate agent where he also worked last Tuesday. A search is underway. The bank has opened what it is calling ‘an internal audit’ to see the circumstance and details of the robbery which they says is about a million €, although an exact calculation is still to be carried out. The man’s wife and daughters say they have no idea where he is. A statement from La Caixa has said that client should not be alarmed by the robbery, because of the money has come from just two accounts.
A body in an advanced state of decomposition has been found among shrubs close to the Istán reservoir. Two foreigners found the body on Sunday afternoon and sources close to the case think the body is male. Several Police units and the Guardia Civil went to scene on the Carril Zahara de Istán. The cause and time of death remains unknown, as the identity of man. An autopsy will be carried out at the Legal Medicine Institute, and forensic scientists have been inspecting the scene.
26 year old Scottish man, Craig Mallon, has been found dead at 7,30 am this morning, Saturday, in the street in Lloret de Mar. According to sources close to the investigation is seems that he was stabbed in a fight in the early hours of the morning between tourists visiting Lloret. No firearms have been found and Catalunya Informació says the Scot died from a heart attack after being stabbed. He was in the town to celebrate his brother’s stag party. It’s believed that alcohol was drunk by those implicated in the fight, but as yet there are no official details. The same sources told the EFE news agency that as yet there have been no arrests, although the regional Catalan police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, will only confirm the death of a person.
The Prosecutors’ Office has archived the denucia placed by Manuel Gómez Benítez against the head of the General Council for Judicial Power and President of the Supreme Court, Carlos Dívar, regarding the costs of his weekend trips to Marbella. Gómez Benítez is also a member of the General Council for Judicial Power. The case was archived when the prosecutors considered that although Díver is alleged to have taken his weekend breaks at public expense that ‘did not constitute any crime’. The prosecutor studied the documentation of all the journeys made by the Supreme Court President and concluded that there was no evidence of the mis-use of public finds.
Spain hired Oliver Wyman Ltd. and Roland Berger Strategy Consultants to carry out a stress test on the nation’s lenders and plans to contract three auditing companies to do an additional analysis of banks’ loans. The stress-test results will be published in the second half of June, the Madrid-based Economy Ministry said in an e- mailed statement today. By the end of May, three auditing firms will be hired to assess how each bank is accounting for asset deterioration, with results due in the coming months. The exercise is part of Spain’s fourth attempt in three years to clean up its lenders, which have about 184 billion euros ($235 billion) of what the Bank of Spain calls “problematic” real estate-linked assets. Concerns about banks’ losses infecting public finances helped push the country’s 10- year bond yield to as high as 6.5 percent last week. “These firms are more independent and have less conflicts in Spain,” said Inigo Lecubarri, who helps manage about $300 million at Abaco Financials Fund in London. “They are competent people to do this job.”
It sounds almost too good to be true: at a time when one in four Spaniards are out of work, for the last few months US casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson has been weighing up whether to build a $21bn (£13.3bn) tourist-cum-gambling resort, which is being dubbed "EuroVegas", outside Madrid or Barcelona. And the city that is chosen for what it is claimed will be Europe's biggest-ever such resort may feel it has hit employment's jackpot: EuroVegas, it is claimed, will create up to 250,000 new jobs. Madrid appears to be well ahead. Earlier this month Mr Adelson made an unannounced visit to a possible site outside the capital. Flying in by private jet from Israel, he and his wife Miriam Ochshorn made an hour-long on-site inspection of the possible site near the capital's dormitory town of Alcorcón. By the time the Madrid government had officially confirmed the visit, Mr Adelson, having spent no more than four hours in Spain, was en route to his Las Vegas home. A definitive decision is expected before the end of May. But as a group of some 150 protesters against the project gathered outside Alcorcón town hall the week before Mr Adelson's visit would suggest, not everyone is convinced of the benefits. In an echo of Goya's famous 3 May 1808 painting of a French firing squad killing Spanish partisans in the Napoleonic wars, the high point of the demonstration in Alcorcón (also held on 3 May) was a mock "execution" of a figure representing the local environment – one of their key fears being that pressure on politicians to cut Spain's jobless totalis so high that potentially negative ecological consequences of projects like EuroVegas will be ignored. "A project on this scale" – ranging from 12 hotel complexes, each with 3,000 rooms, to six casinos with 18,000 slot machines – "will have a huge ecological impact, and Madrid's environment is already in very poor shape," says Rodrigo Fernández of the Plataforma-EuroVegas-No (PEVN) movement. "The only justification for this project is employment. People are desperate for work, and this project exploits their dramatic personal plight." Mr Adelson says Spain's jobless total which "assures us the support of the government" is one reason for his company, Las Vegas Sands (LVS), opting for Spain.The other is the good weather. "What is really disturbing is the lack of information. We only have leaks to the media on the negotiations between EuroVegas and the local government." says Mr. Fernández. "All we know for sure is that there would be a huge increase in infrastructure: more roads, more underground and overland railways, maybe a bigger airport, and the environmental damage that inevitably would occur when you are building hotels with 36,000 rooms." Environmental studies show the slot machines would have as much electrical consumption as Majadahonda, a medium- sized Madrid dormitory town with a population of 65,000, he claims. In Mallorca last month, some 7,000 demonstrators protested against the proposed building of a hotel resort by the beach of Es Trenc, one of the few stretches of coast unspoiled by urban development. The construction would, according to Spanish newspaper El País, be the biggest hotel constructed in the Balearics since Franco's death in 1975. "It's going to be horrible," says teacher Beatriz Mohedaño Lemauft, who regularly uses the beaches on Mallorca's south side and who joined the protest, "ecologically, a real disaster for the area. Okay, so the hotel is not going to be on the beach itself, but it's right next to it and is going to have a huge impact." The hotel's backers say their €120m (£97m) investment could create 300 jobs. But Natalia Martín, an activist with the Ecologistas en Accion movement who specialises in coastal laws, says quick-fix employment must not be the only consideration for such projects. "Whenever there is an environmental law which clashes with economic development, we believe the government wants to weaken that law," Ms Martín argues. "Spain's current legislation on coastland has been in existence since 1988 and it allows companies to develop franchises on some stretches for 30-year maximums. But in the case of an oil refinery in the Basque Country they've just given them another 30-year-extension on what is actually public property." As for EuroVegas, the environment is just one area where questions are being asked – and no answers given: all that is known is that Las Vegas Sands has "development needs", which it refuses to make public. An emailed list of questions to the company from The Independent about the "development needs" brought no response. Spain's heavyweight press have reported alleged requests by LVS for an easing of Spanish labour laws, lifting of visa restrictions on foreign employees, two-year tax breaks and permission to loophole health laws on smoking in public places. Ultimately, whatever Las Vegas Sands asks for, the lure of wiping out half of Madrid's unemployment total at a stroke when Spain is in its worst recession for decades may prove too hard to resist. "Rejecting a project out of hand, when we know nothing of its details but which could contain the possibility of creating employment and reactivating the economy, seems a little rash," Paz Gonzalez, head of Madrid's housing department, told El Páis. If Spanish politicians need to be reminded of the difficulty of reversing a controversial building decision after the bulldozers move in, they might recall the Hotel El Algarrobico in Almería, 500km further south. A 21-storey, 411-room never-used hotel in the middle of Cabo de Gata Natural Park and 14 metres away from previously virgin coastline, the hotel has been pending demolition for over six years. But the builder, Azata Sol, said in 2009 the hotel's 65,000 cubic metres of cement "are encrusted in the earth" which makes demolition impossible. Something on the scale of EuroVegas or Es Trenc in Mallorca, one imagines, would be even harder to backtrack on. But the pressure for such allegedly employment-rich projects is steadily mounting in today's jobless-hit Spain.
Wednesday, 16 May 2012
Gibraltar police boarded Spanish fishing boats in the early hours of yesterday, carried out a check and requested documentation
Gibraltar police boarded Spanish fishing boats in the early hours of yesterday, carried out a check and requested documentation, said a boat owner. The boats were in waters near Gibraltar where fishing is not allowed. The incident happens on the eve of today's meeting of fishermen at No.6 Convent Place. The boat owner was said to have been told by police that it was the third occasion that they had been sighted in the area, and that they would be arrested if seen again in waters off Gibraltar. The head of the La Atunara fishing federation, Leoncio Fernandez, has confirmed the incident to Spanish media sources. He said three fishing boats had been fishing in waters near Gibraltar, as they had been doing in recent days. On this last occasion, two patrol vessels and three Ribs of the RGP met he fishing boats, to inform them that it was prohibited to fish there. It is claimed that another vessel from the Royal Navy was also seen in the area. It is claimed that after a vessel from the 'Guardia Civil' arrived in the area, tension receded, with the ishing boats returning to La Atunara. The Gibraltar government has drafted a document to enable fishing to take place, but it would appear that the representatives of the fishermen will also produce another document at the meeting. The fishermen are insisting that Spanish and European law must be taken into account. Behind it all is the question of sovereignty, as the Spanish government insists that Gibraltar does not have territorial waters and that the waters that surround the Rock are Spanish. The PP mayor of Algeciras, Jose Ignacio Landaluce, has also taken this line since the last meeting.
FOOTBALL boss Darragh MacAnthony faced a court grilling over claims his company swindled holiday home owners out of hundreds of thousands of euros.
The Dublin-born entrepreneur was quizzed for nearly two hours by a Spanish judge about his property empire and a furniture sales sideline. Mr MacAnthony, once estimated to be worth €180m, was chaffeur-driven to the court in upmarket Marbella to answer allegations of "misappropriation of funds and theft by swindle." Dozens of ex-customers sparked the probe after complaining nearly €500,000 worth of furniture, ordered more than five years ago from his company for apartments in Morocco, Bulgaria and Cape Verde, was never delivered. The Peterborough United chairman declined to comment as he left after the hearing behind closed doors and was driven away to the luxury hotel where he is staying in a €2,650-a-night private villa. Four other business associates linked to his property firm MacAnthony Realty International were also questioned. Investigating judge Beatriz Gomez-Escolar is probing allegations MacAnthony and his business associates misappropriated around €550,000 from 56 customers and stripped MRI of its assets before a de facto closing as part of an elaborate fraud involving the use of an OAP frontman. The investigation into MRI's business practices launched in January after a group of 51 buyers ratified an earlier claim that €492,000 of furniture they ordered for holiday homes was never delivered. Five more people have since come forward to claim they were victims as well. MRI has consistently denied any allegations of wrongdoing. Mr MacAnthony, who has not been charged with any crime, has said in the past: "There are no foundations behind these allegations. I certainly didn't do anything wrong and neither did anyone with MRI when I was there."
Friday, 11 May 2012
Newport businessman has been found dead, floating in the sea near his yacht near the Costa del Sol. Denis Manley, 72, from Newport, Monmouth, was spotted on Wednesday afternoon in the marina at Estepona, at the western end of the southern Spanish holiday coast near Gibraltar, where his yacht was moored. He had been living on the boat. Spanish police are investigating the death. Mr Manley, believed to have been a director of several companies, had suffered a head injury and police said that it appeared he had probably slipped on board the vessel, hitting his head, and then fallen into the water.
Sunday, 6 May 2012
The gasmen – who work for six different companies – often charged up to three times the going rate to carry out unnecessary maintenance work. They are accused of failing to have the right qualifications and of not being registered with the Junta. It follows the recent arrest of four people in Malaga for similar offences. The popular ruse – reported on regularly by the Olive Press in recent years – has led to expats being wrongly charged hundreds of euros for replacement parts or a new certificate. Homeowners are often pressured into having work carried out on the premise that there is a risk of an accident, or are threatened with having their gas cut off. According to regulator Cogasa, gas inspections should only ever be carried out by prior appointment.