4GCK5UZSBVAJHEQHXALGJIQVDQ - A judge investigates a luxury trip of 40 people to Vietnam and Cambodia paid for by the Nursing Council |  Spain
The president of the entity, Florentino Pérez, along with two of his vice presidents, at the opening of the nursing congress in Singapore in 2019.THE COUNTRY

The Court of Instruction 31 of Madrid investigates a complaint against the leadership of the General Council of Nursing (CGE) of Spain —which represents 316,000 professionals from 52 provincial schools— for alleged crimes of unfair administration, misappropriation and falsehood. The judge investigates the alleged fraudulent machinations of the CGE to camouflage before its affiliates an expensive pleasure trip to Singapore, Cambodia and Vietnam in which almost 40 people participated under the pretext of participating in the world nursing congress held in Singapore in June 2019 Only one of the attendees, the secretary general of this body, actually attended the conference. The others only made an appearance at the opening ceremony and left the next day on a tourist trip until July 11, when they returned to Spain after 17 days of vacation that included four-star hotels, meals worth almost 5,000 euros and a cruise on the Saigon River (Vietnam).

The trip was paid for by the CGE and by several of its subsidiaries. It cost a total of 365,266.27 euros. During the tourist route, the CGE also treated attendees with gifts valued at 21,569 euros. And, to avoid the inconvenience of having to carry the gifts and purchases they made, the CGE paid another 12,504 euros to transfer all of this to Spain by air.

The General Council of Nursing is a public law corporation, similar to the official medical associations, and the highest representative body of the union. It has a budget of just over 20 million that is nourished by the mandatory fees paid by members, around 235 euros a year, more than doctors to their respective schools.

The Spanish expedition was made up of almost 40 people (almost all the members of the national executive, 12 presidents of provincial nursing schools, the spouses of almost all of them, and private guests). The Singapore appointment consisted of two parts. The so-called world assembly, which was held on June 24, 25 and 26. Access to this is restricted to the main leaders, no more than five, of the national councils. The second part of the event is the congress, open to all professionals, which opened on July 27 and ended on July 1. The assembly, specifically, was attended by four members of the CGE executive, including the president of the college, Florentino Pérez Raya. They traveled to Singapore several days before the rest of the guests. Pérez assures that he did attend the assembly and that during that period he held meetings with other leaders.

The rest of the Spanish delegation, some thirty people, including provincial presidents and other guests, arrived in Singapore between June 26 and 27. They attended the opening ceremony of the congress on the 27th. But the next day, June 28, they all left for Vietnam (the CGE general secretary was the only one who stayed at the congress). Only the extension of the trip through the aforementioned Asian countries, apart from the stay in Singapore, cost the CGE coffers between 4,200 and 6,200 euros per person, depending on whether they were traveling in economy or preferential class.

To defray these expenses they resorted to this ruse: many assistants and their wives went to the travel agency, the same one used by the Gürtel network, and contributed the money corresponding to the extension of the trip through Vietnam and Cambodia from their pocket. However, to those who did this, the CGE promised that, upon their return from Asia, the money would be returned.. And so it was done. Those who had a working relationship with the council had their salary raised for several months to cover the exact amount paid from their pockets; in other cases, false billings were used for non-existent services.

Among the firms used to camouflage the payments are E-Network Salud and Cofunsalud, SA, the former owned 100% by the CGE and the latter 25%. The board of directors of the former is chaired by Florentino Pérez Raya. This firm paid for the travel of the 12 provincial presidents and their spouses (169,326.15 euros). Another part of the money, that of the members of the executive, came from the CGE’s own coffers.

Pérez Raya assures this newspaper that those 365,000 euros came “from the commissions” given to the CGE by the insurers with which the agency has arranged its policies. “The trip did not cost the Council anything, they are commissions from the insurers and we could do with them whatever we wanted.” He adds, however, that this practice “has been inherited” from many years ago and is common to almost all professional associations. Pérez Raya, president of the CGE since 2017, blames his predecessor in office, Máximo González, who was acting as his advisor at the time, and a brother of this who was then the manager of the CGE and whom, explains, fired for this reason.

His predecessor in office, Máximo González, categorically denies that he organized the trip. He assures that he did not even go. And that there are WhatsApp messages in which Pérez Raya, “who was and is the president,” boasts of having invited related provincial nursing presidents to the trip and marginalized others, to seek support. Pérez Raya, for his part, appeals to emails in which González’s brother allegedly gives instructions on the development of the expedition. And he reveals that his objective since he took office is to “clean up” the Council. “When I do, I will leave,” he says. In the last 30 years, Pérez Raya has been the vice president of this body with González as president. Before they were close friends. Now the enmity between the two is palpable. Pérez Raya has taken González to court for financial irregularities during his tenure. And he presumes that during his tenure he has saved the CGE more than two million euros.

Pérez Raya presides, in addition to E-Network, also Cofunsalud, and from all of them he receives a spectacular salary, 433,000 euros a year at least. He is also president of the Andalusian Council of Nursing and of the Official College of Nursing of Córdoba. He assures that he charges the same as his predecessor. González denies it: “I received half of it.”

The complaint for the trip to Vietnam and other serious irregularities that nest in the Council has been submitted to the judge by the Madrid Prosecutor’s Office, which in turn took on another complaint filed for the same events before the Valladolid Prosecutor’s Office and signed by the president of the Autonomous Council of Nursing of Castilla y León, Alfredo Escaja. The complaint has ended up in court 31 in Madrid at the request of the Madrid Prosecutor’s Office. “The Valladolid prosecutor called me to ratify the complaint and told me that the events were very serious,” Escaja emphasizes.

High wages and nepotism

The salaries of the council leaders are very juicy. If the president receives almost half a million euros per year for the different representation positions he occupies both in the CGE and in its investee companies, the first vice president receives 171,283 euros, the general secretary 123,498 and the general deputy secretary 162,689.

On the other hand, five members of the current president’s family work for the CGE: a daughter and a son with their respective spouses and the husband of another of their daughters. His son has a gross annual salary of 152,646 euros as head of computer science despite the fact that he only did high school. He and his wife have received year-to-year salary increases of 47%. Pérez Raya says that it was González who hired his children when he was president and that he did not increase their salaries. The complaint also contains documentation that proves that Pérez Raya’s wife and their son have issued alleged false invoices to Abetas, which has contracts with the CGE through other related firms, for alleged non-existent advisory work.