Will Spain’s PM resign after Moroccan lobbying scandal?

[29th April update: Sánchez has shamelessly relied on public rallies of his supporters to defy the judicial process and ignore serious questions. So far the UK media has colluded with him. Had a politician of the ‘right’ behaved in this way, then UK journalists would have denounced him as a populist demagogue. But a politician of the ‘left’ is given a free pass.]

Mystery surrounds Spain’s socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez this weekend after he fuelled speculation that he might resign due to a series of corruption allegations against himself and his wife. Many observers suspect that Sánchez is manoeuvring to rally support on the left, and that tomorrow he will use political leverage to try to close down investigations.

[This article is also available in Spanish translation – Este artículo también está disponible en traducción al español.]

Some of these allegations relate to a court case brought by a legal foundation run by a veteran Spanish nationalist, and some also involve Spain’s business and political relationships with the Kingdom of Morocco.

More than a year ago, we exposed the role of Moroccan lobbyists in the politically motivated prosecution of our European correspondent Isabel Peralta.

Isabel has campaigned against the corruption of Spanish politics: she has highlighted attempted blackmail being exerted by the Moroccan Government, who were threatening to flood Spain with immigrants unless Spain accepted Moroccan control over Western Sahara.

Pedro Sánchez and his wife Begoña Gomez are at the centre of multiple allegations that threaten to force the Spanish Prime Minister’s resignation.

This is a diplomatic dispute that has been going on for more than half a century, ever since Spain gave up its colonial control over the province once known as Spanish Sahara. Morocco seeks to grab the entire area for itself, but is opposed by an independence movement called Polisario Front, which is backed by Algeria.

It was in Spaniards’ economic interest to back the Polisario, partly in order to remain on good terms with Algeria, which supplies Spain with natural gas. But for the past three or four years the Moroccan government has exerted blackmail on Spain.

Isabel denounced this blackmail at a demonstration outside the Moroccan Embassy in Madrid in May 2021. (At the time she was leading a Spanish nationalist youth group.)

H&D correspondent Isabel Peralta addressing a demonstration outside the Moroccan Embassy in 2021: Isabel still faces criminal charges in relation to this speech. The charges were prompted by an employee of a leading Moroccan lobbyist.

Ten days after this demonstration, Madrid’s political police were visited by Sofia Bencrimo, who at that time was employed by a charity that promotes the integration of immigrants. This charity’s president is Mohammed Chaib Akhdim, a veteran politician and businessman with close personal and financial ties to the Moroccan government – the very people whose actions were being exposed and criticised in Isabel’s speech.

Chaib is a former MP in both the Catalan and Madrid parliaments for the left-wing party PSC (Socialists Party of Catalonia). This is one of the parties on which Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez depends to keep his coalition government in power.

But Chaib is also a wealthy businessman with financial interests in his native Morocco, and in particular stands to benefit from Morocco taking control of Western Sahara. Since 1992 he was been director of business development in Morocco for COMSA Industrial, a company with vast interests in engineering and construction projects in Morocco, including the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

Later the same day these police officers sent a report to the prosecutors: this was the first step in the process leading to Isabel’s criminal trial. The prosecution dossier of more than 90 pages (a copy of which has been obtained by H&D) was based on just a single complaint – the ‘evidence’ of Sofia Bencrimo, employee of the politically well-connected Moroccan lobbyist Mohammed Chaib.

Moroccan lobbyist Mohammed Chaib (second left) with Pedro Sánchez.

In this context, and with the criminal charges against Isabel still slowly proceeding through the Madrid court system, readers will understand that H&D has taken an especially close interest in the sinister connections between the Spanish government and Moroccan lobbyists. Not only have these connections subverted Spain’s immigration policy, they have also led to our own correspondent being prosecuted. A patriotic activist is in the dock, while the real criminals are those in authority!

The full extent of this criminality is at last becoming clearer, which is why Prime Minister Sánchez made his unprecedented threat to resign, and this week is in hiding from the world’s press.

H&D cannot comment on all of the wide-ranging and sometimes bizarre allegations against Sánchez and his wife, but certain disturbing facts are already clear.

The timing of the Prime Minister’s resignation threat is related to two recent developments.

First, a Madrid court opened a preliminary investigation into his wife Begoña Gomez “for the alleged offence of influence peddling and corruption”. This investigation is based on a complaint by Manos Limpias (‘Clean Hands’), a foundation run by Miguel Bernad, a Madrid lawyer (now aged 82) whose political roots are in the nationalist party Fuerza Nueva and who was a senior ally of that party’s leader Blas Piñar.

Miguel Bernad, former secretary-general of the Spanish nationalist party Fuerza Nueva, heads the foundation that has brought corruption allegations against the Prime Minister and his wife

Curiously, Bernad had personal knowledge of Ms Gomez’s strange family background. Her father Sabiniano Gómez owns several gay sauna establishments in Madrid, and conservative journalists have reported that Miguel Bernad was the city council official responsible for licensing such establishments, which several Spanish newspapers have openly described as homosexual brothels.

It’s certainly an odd connection: the London equivalent would be if Rishi Sunak’s father-in-law were the owner of Soho saunas rather than being one of the richest men in India…

Perhaps significantly, it’s also known that leading members of Spain’s main conservative party (PP) planned several years ago to carry out investigations of the Prime Minister’s father-in-law and exploit any scandals.

And this is where alleged Moroccan blackmail again becomes relevant.

A rare photo of Sabiniano Gómez, gay brothel owner and father-in-law of the Spanish Prime Minister.

Pegasus spyware, developed by Israel, was used by Moroccan authorities to target mobile phones belonging to Prime Minister Sánchez and some of his ministers. Rather then press for an investigation and punishment of those who had spied on him, Sánchez was happy to allow the case to drop. Partly because the Israeli company behind the spyware refused to cooperate, a Spanish judge dropped his investigation after 12 months.

However, last Tuesday the case was reopened, thanks to information provided to the Spanish courts by the French investigation of similar Moroccan espionage.

Within days of the espionage case being reopened, Sanchez threatened to resign. Is he again attempting to interfere with the investigation, and if so, what revelations does he fear?

What is known is that Morocco spied on Prime Minister Sánchez in 2021, around the time when he suddenly changed Spain’s policy and began to favour Morocco over Western Sahara.

Since then, Sánchez has repeatedly favoured Morocco. A few weeks ago he announced plans for Spanish investment in Morocco totalling €45bn.

Another curious aspect is that the Kingdom of Morocco has close relations not only with Israel (hence their use of Israeli espionage software) but also with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI with Vladimir Putin after signing a military and intelligence agreement in 2016.

In 2016, while preparing to work with Israeli technology to spy on Western European governments, Morocco signed an agreement with Russia to cooperate on military and intelligence matters.

This cooperation has extended since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Defying European sanctions, Morocco has become one of the Kremlin’s most important business partners. Morocco imports oil from Russia, and also exports oil to Spain.

If it were found that Sánchez and his Moroccan friends had connived at evading oil sanctions, to the benefit of the Kremlin, this would be a serious betrayal of Europe.

The Spanish government’s failed immigration policy is already a betrayal not only of Spaniards but of all Europeans; if Sánchez (via Morocco) is indirectly aiding the neo-Stalinist war machine, his disgusting record of treachery would be compounded.

While Prime Minister Sánchez fights for Morocco, Isabel Peralta and H&D continue our fight for the true Europe.

As our regular readers know, our correspondent Isabel Peralta has three times had her travel to the UK interrupted due to harassment by border security working with their Spanish and German counterparts. The latest evidence ought to convince the Home Office that the real threat to British and European security interests comes from the Spanish government itself, not from Isabel. We shall continue to fight for our comrade, and we are confident that no obstacle will prevent her from continuing to champion the true Europe, as the brightest beacon of hope for our cause.

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