On December 15, 2014, Spanish Anticorruption Public Prosecutor formally requested a Spanish criminal judge to start criminal proceedings against Real Zaragoza S.A. Deportiva, its president, two members of the board, two members of the staff (including the coach), and 36 soccer players (18 from Real Zaragoza and 18 from Union Deportiva Levante) in relation to the last match of the 2010 – 2011 Spanish First Division Soccer League. On May 21, 2011, Real Zaragoza and Unión Deportiva Levante played the last match of the season. Union Deportiva Levante had already obtained the necessary points to stay in the Spanish First Division Soccer League in the following season (2011- 2012). In contrast, Real Zaragoza needed to win the match to be able to play in the Spanish First Division Soccer League the following season. Real Zaragoza won the match with a score of 2-1. The Public Prosecutor found suspicious bank transfers between Real Zaragoza and some of its players made before the match, as well as suspicious cash withdrawals of identical amounts from the same Real Zaragoza players, also made before the match. The Public Prosecutor has stated that the amount withdrawn in cash was used to pay Levante soccer players in exchange for them losing the soccer match and allowing Real Zaragoza to play in the Spanish First Division Soccer League in the 2011 – 2012 season. This criminal proceedings are based on the new private corruption offence, introduced in Spain in 2010. In particular, this offence type is contemplated in Article 286 bis, Section 4 of the Spanish Criminal Code. Private corruption is one of the corruption-related crimes that could involve criminal liability for legal entities (cf. our previous post regarding criminal liability of legal entities). These criminal proceedings are the first ones started in Spain on the basis of the referred Article 286 bis Section 4 of the Spanish criminal Code.
Rafael Jiménez-Gusi is a partner in Baker McKenzie's Corporate Practice Group in Barcelona. He has more than 20 years of experience handling cross-border M&A transactions and company reorganizations. Mr. Jiménez-Gusi serves as secretary of several Spanish corporations, where he regularly advises on corporate compliance matters. He has organized, led and conducted numerous internal investigations involving allegations of corruption and company fraud. Mr. Jiménez-Gusi has served several leadership positions in Baker McKenzie at the office, regional and practice group level. This includes serving as member of the Firm’s Global Executive Committee. In addition to his legal practice, Mr. Jiménez-Gusi has been an associate professor of Ramon Llull University and ESADE Law School, and acts as legal counsel of Active Africa.