Spain continues its fight against corruption: A detailed analysis of judicial progress in 2023

The year 2023 stands out as a crucial period in Spain’s ongoing battle against corruption. The country’s courts have displayed a commendable activity in investigating and prosecuting cases linked to illegal practices in the public and political spheres. In this context, a report published by the General Council of the Judiciary has shed light on the significant progress made in this fundamental area of Spanish justice, providing a comprehensive overview of the events and trends that shaped the judicial landscape throughout the year.

Key data from the report:

  • Judicial procedures: A total of 32 judicial procedures for corruption were conducted in Spain in 2023.
  • Individuals involved: These procedures involved a total of 256 individuals, both natural and legal persons, of which ultimately, 14 legal entities were prosecuted.
  • Investigated offences: The procedures addressed a variety of offences related to corruption, including prevarication, bribery, misappropriation of public funds, influence peddling, and fraud.
  • Issued rulings: Throughout the year 2023, a total of 56 rulings were issued in corruption cases. Of these, 9% were wholly or partially condemnatory. During the last quarter of the year, orders for prosecution or oral trial were issued against 34 individuals, both natural and legal persons.
  • Relevant Autonomous Communities: The relevance of certain autonomous communities, such as Andalusia, Valencia, and Madrid, where a significant number of corruption-related cases and judicial procedures were concentrated, is highlighted.

Thus, the data collected in the report reveals that, throughout the past year, a total of 32 judicial procedures for corruption were conducted across the entire national territory, in which an indictment for oral trial or prosecution was issued against 185 natural persons and 71 legal persons, amounting to a total of 256 natural and legal persons, who were investigated and prosecuted for alleged corruption offences. It is worth clarifying that the judicial procedures listed in the repository involve public officials, rulers, and politicians exercising their positions, and one of the key elements is the use of public funds, covering both administrative and political corruption.

Likewise, it is worth noting that the report refers to a wide range of offences and transgressions primarily affecting the public and political spheres. Among the most prominent offences are:

  • Urban prevarication (Articles 320 and 322 of the Penal Code – hereinafter, CP) and prevarication by public officials (Articles 404, 405, and 408 CP).
  • Bribery (Articles 419, 420, 421, and 422 CP).
  • Misappropriation (Articles 432, 433, 434, and 435 CP).
  • Influence peddling (Articles 428, 429, and 430 CP).
  • Frauds and illegal exactions (Articles 436, 437, and 438 CP).

Furthermore, the culmination of these processes is reflected in the high volume of decisions issued in corruption matters. Throughout the year, a total of 56 judgements were issued, reflecting the commitment of Spanish courts to accountability and the rigorous application of the law in this area. Of these, 67.9% were wholly or partially condemnatory, emphasising the firm determination of judicial bodies to punish those responsible for corrupt acts and restore confidence in the judicial system.

In the same vein, mention should be made of the last term of the year 2023, a period characterised by a significant increase in the number of judgements issued. During this period, a total of 13 additional decisions were recorded, distributed evenly across different regions of the country. These rulings, which cover a wide variety of cases and circumstances, once again highlight the diligent and continuous approach of the courts in resolving cases involving corruption, even in times of high demand and pressure.

Beyond punitive action, the information provided in the report leads us, once again, to emphasise on the importance of prevention in the fight against corruption comprehensively. That is, the critical importance of having robust Compliance Systems, as a fundamental part of the fight against corruption, among other offences. It is worth remembering that an effective compliance system not only promotes a culture of integrity and transparency in organisations but also facilitates the early detection of possible irregularities and rigorous compliance with legal and ethical regulations.

Moreover, in the context of the data evidenced in the report, a robust compliance system could have helped prevent acts of corruption, timely identify any suspicious behaviour, and mitigate the risks associated with improper conduct.

In conclusion, the information provided in the report sheds light on the magnitude of the corruption problem in Spain and highlights the efforts of judicial authorities to combat these crimes and promote integrity in the exercise of public power, an essential task to safeguard democratic principlesinstitutional integrity, and transparency in the public sphere. On the other hand, by investing in the construction and strengthening of these systems, organisations and institutions can significantly contribute to protecting public interests, reinforcing the rule of law, and fostering a more just and transparent society.

Molins Defensa Penal, Department of Compliance.

Update cookies preferences