The 7th Investigation Court of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has opened a preliminary investigation into the Social Response Foundation 21st Century and four of its directors. The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office in Las Palmas filed a complaint against them, alleging crimes such as forgery of commercial documents, mismanagement, and embezzlement of public funds. The investigation aims to determine whether the nonprofit organization and its officials misused public funds intended for the care of unaccompanied minors. The estimated amount involved in the alleged misuse is €12.5 million between 2020 and 2022 in Gran Canaria.
The investigation, which began in January 2022 and lasted 16 months, focused on the banking activities of the Social Response Foundation 21st Century, as well as several centers for unaccompanied minors in Las Palmas and Lanzarote. The personal bank accounts of the directors were also examined.
According to the complaint, the directors allegedly diverted public funds into their personal accounts, using the funds for their own benefit instead of the intended purpose of caring for the minors. The investigation found evidence of substantial diversion of public funds, with the directors falsely attributing expenses to investments at the centers to conceal the personal use of public funds.
The prosecutor explains that the foundation received €95 per day from the government for each unaccompanied minor. However, after transferring the funds, the Ministry of Social Rights, Equality, Diversity, and Youth allegedly failed to oversee the use of the budget, allowing for potential misuse of the allocated funds.
The investigation reveals that the foundation subsequently deposited an amount into the directors’ personal accounts that did not correspond to the funds received from the government. This practice continued until the directors’ personal accounts were closed. At that point, the foundation opened official accounts and authorized the directors to manage the budget. Numerous invoices were then submitted, some with expenses unrelated to the institution’s activities and others with inflated prices.
The prosecutor’s complaint emphasizes the lack of supervision and control by the Ministry of Social Rights, Equality, Diversity, and Youth. The absence of measures and penalties for non-compliance contributed to the alleged mismanagement of funds.
The Menas case, as it is known, joins other ongoing cases such as Mascarillas and Mediador, which have caused significant controversy in the Canarian government over the past year. The prosecutor believes that the lack of oversight and mismanagement of public funds in the Menas case may have resulted in inefficiency and incorrect utilization of taxpayer money.
The court will now proceed with the investigation to determine the extent of the alleged misappropriation of funds and the responsibility of the foundation and its directors. If found guilty, they may face charges of forgery, mismanagement, and embezzlement of public funds. The outcome of the case will shed light on the management practices within the Social Response Foundation 21st Century and raise questions about the effectiveness of oversight mechanisms within the Ministry of Social Rights, Equality, Diversity, and Youth.