The conviction of fraudster Nigel Goldman by a UK jury this month has caused Spanish papers to analyse the ongoing Spanish investigation.
The influential ‘El Confidencial’ e-paper, in a damming editorial, was shocked by the lack of process in Spain. The paper thundered: “A poker card shark accused of fraud who operated along the Costa del Sol is sentenced in the UK just eight months after committing fraud [there]. In two years, the Spanish courts have barely started their investigation [into the millions he allegedly embezzled here]”.
Roberto Sánchez, a lawyer involved in the case, agreed: “Since the investigation opened in 2013, Nigel’s passport was not seized, he has not even been cited to testify”.
The Spanish Authorities first became aware of the activities of this unlicensed financial advisor in mid 2013 when the Marbella police received several denuncias from victims. That December officers sent the case to Marbella penal courts.
But a simple error in the files caused a catastrophic decision. The files stated that the money had been sent to a Barcelona bank account, and Marbella courts ordered the case to be sent there for investigation.
It was later discovered that the investigators had mistakenly substituted Barcelona for nearby Fuengirola.
Six months had passed and no investigation had even started, thanks to this simple mistake. The case was returned to the original Judge who now decided to send it to a court in Fuengirola, who initially refused it. It was not until March 25th of this year that Fuengirola finally accepted the investigation. But the over-loaded courts have other cases with more priority and the criminal investigation still has not fully started.
Worse happened in Vera (Almeria), where three victims who were lured into Nigel’s trap had filed a joint complaint. The local Judge decided it was a civil matter and closed the penal investigation. The victims have appealed the decision.
With just ten judges per 100,000 inhabitants, the Spanish court system is one of the slowest, most over-burdened and under-funded in the European Union.
Spain also has an excess of lawyers – a 2014 study said there were more penal lawyers in Madrid region than in the whole of the UK.
Earlier this year thousands of Spanish lawyers and judges joined a twitter campaign demanding more resources for the penal system.
Meanwhile, unlicensed fraudsters like “Sir” Nigel – as he used to title himself – continue to operate with near impunity along the Costas.