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EPO and the “Iberian Connection”: Patricia García-Escudero Márquez - Battistelli's Pet Chinchilla on the Boards of Appeal Committee?

Next installment (second of the bunch) among three

EPO scandal in Spain



Summary: Why the Boards of Appeal Committee has begun showing prominent signs that it is anything but independent and capable of standing up to Battistelli (or his circle at the Office, which includes the “Iberian Connection")

THE closer we look at the EPO, the more we uncover political scandals. The two (EPO and EU/national politics) are inherently inseparable because politicians and bureaucrats are joining the EPO (key positions in particular). There's plenty of politics at play and in fact, more so than ever before, some supporters and critics of the EPO do so for political reasons (gains or losses). We have been told so for a while, with examples from Belgium, France, etc. Battistelli himself, for example, is a politician who has not left his political life behind.



Editorial Notes



Today we shall look a little deeper into Iberian/Spanish politics. In part one and its addendum we wrote about one of the EPO's Vice-Presidents -- the only one who comes from Spain. In the teaser of this part we shared 13 photos which relate to today's coverage but are not essential enough for in-line inclusion.

"García-Escudero is the current Director General of the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (OEPM) and head of the Spanish delegation to the EPO's Administrative Council."Without further ado, here's the next part, the one about the "Iberian connection" and the connections to Pío García-Escudero Márquez, Count of Badarán. It makes it easier to digest when separated into parts as readers tend to have limited attention spans. Some more information/photos will follow by separate post/article (addendum) as they are less crucial and more peripheral to the substance of this article. The final article, probably to be ready later this week, will be an update about the "Balkan Express" which is still chugging along despite expectations that it was about to be derailed.

García-Escudero Márquez



A previous posting referred to Patricia García-Escudero Márquez and her recent appointment to the new supervisory body of the EPO Boards of Appeal which is known as the Boards of Appeal Committee (or "BOAC") in EPO jargon. García-Escudero is the current Director General of the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (OEPM) and head of the Spanish delegation to the EPO's Administrative Council.

"Following her most recent appointment to the new supervisory body of the EPO Boards of Appeal questions are already being asked inside the EPO about whether or not her close links to the Vice-President Casado and Battistelli's "UIMP club" (whose members include Casado and Campinos) might be an indication that she is destined to be Battistelli's pet chinchilla on the BOAC."Her appointment as Director General of the OEPM was shrouded in controversy and rumours of procedural irregularities.

Following her most recent appointment to the new supervisory body of the EPO Boards of Appeal questions are already being asked inside the EPO about whether or not her close links to the Vice-President Casado and Battistelli's "UIMP club" (whose members include Casado and Campinos) might be an indication that she is destined to be Battistelli's pet chinchilla on the BOAC.

The connection between EPO Vice-President Casado and the Spanish Administrative Council delegate García-Escudero bears an uncanny resemblance to the link between EPO Vice-President Željko Topić and the Croatian Administrative Council delegate Ljiljana Kuterovac which we will examine in more detail in a separate article.

In both cases a former head of an Administrative Council delegation got appointed to a position as EPO Vice-President and the successor as head of delegation was his former subordinate and deputy. This creates the suspicion that these EPO Vice-Presidents might now be in a position to exert an inappropriate level of influence on individual members of their oversight body in view of the previous professional relationship. Some people see this as a potential conflict of interest situation which doesn't seem to have attracted much attention so far but it might be worth looking into it. EPO insiders reckon that it could give a clue as to how Battistelli has been able to influence at least some of the Council delegations by "parachuting" Council delegates into key positions as EPO Vice-Presidents.

Iberian Connection



"Battistelli's close connections to the French party "Les Républicains" (formerly the UIMP) and the as yet unsubstantiated rumours which have been floating around for some time about EPO monies being diverted to finance Sarkozy's election campaign."With the help of his "Iberian connection" via the "UIMP club" it is seems likely that Battistelli can rely on the support of the Spanish and Portuguese delegations and perhaps also Monaco which seems to be on his side most of the time. According to EPO insiders, the "Balkan connection" via Željko Topić and the Croatian delegation is relied on for drumming up support amongst the south-eastern European delegations from the territory of the former Yugoslavia and its neighbouring states.

But the reason for concern here is not just the risk of undue influence being exerted over some Council delegations by EPO Vice-Presidents.

The "Iberian connection" is sometimes spoken about inside the EPO in the context of the allegations about Battistelli's close connections to the French party "Les Républicains" (formerly the UIMP) and the as yet unsubstantiated rumours which have been floating around for some time about EPO monies being diverted to finance Sarkozy's election campaign. This is because Vice-President Casado is reputed to be politically close to the Spanish conservative party Partido Popular although it is currently not known if he is actually a party member. The Administrative Council delegate García-Escudero, who is a former subordinate and close professional associate of Casado and a member of the "UIMP club", is known to have a close family connection to the upper echelons of the party.

"The Partido Popular is the Spanish equivalent of the French "Les Républicains" and it has been implicated in a number of recent scandals in Spain which have centred around allegations of wide-scale bribery and corruption and the use of secret "slush funds"."To be more precise, Patricia García-Escudero Márquez is the sister of Pío García-Escudero Márquez, Count of Badarán, a scion of the Spanish aristocracy and a leading figure in the Partido Popular who has been the Chairman of the Spanish Senate since 2011. Details can be found in the English or Spanish Wikipedia pages.

Spanish-French Connections



The Partido Popular is the Spanish equivalent of the French "Les Républicains" and it has been implicated in a number of recent scandals in Spain which have centred around allegations of wide-scale bribery and corruption and the use of secret "slush funds". These revelations have caused some EPO insiders to speculate that EPO cash surpluses might be under risk of diversion not only to "deserving causes" in France but also in other parts of Europe including the Iberian peninsula and perhaps even the Balkans. It is easy to discount such speculation as the paranoid ramblings of the "tinfoil hat brigade" but the lack of any effective independent oversight at the EPO raises the awkward question as to who -- if anybody -- would be in a position to uncover such irregularities if they were in fact to take place.

Spanish Corruption



For the moment there is no answer to this question but the recent political scandals surrounding the Partido Popular in Spain suggest that Battistelli's "Iberian connection" deserves to be kept under careful observation.

"The name of Pío García-Escudero Márquez who is a leading figure in the Partido Popular and the Chairman of the Spanish Senate since 2011 has cropped up at various times in connection with the investigations into some of these affairs, in particular the Bárcenas affair where he admitted to receiving one of the payments detailed in the secret accounting records known as the "Bárcenas Papers"."The political landscape of Spain was shaken in recent years by a series of corruption scandals beginning with the Bárcenas affair which broke in January 2013 when the Spanish daily El Mundo revealed that the former treasurer of the Partido Popular Luis Bárcenas had, up until 2009, used a slush fund to pay out monthly amounts, ranging from €5,000 to €15,000, to leading members of the party. Soon afterwards the Spanish daily El País published what became known as the "Bárcenas' Papers", facsimile excerpts from handwritten ledgers in Bárcenas' hand. Among the recipients were the party leader and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Secretary General María Dolores de Cospedal.

At around the same time a corruption scandal involving the Duke of Palma resulted in his spouse Cristina de Borbón, the sister of King Felipe VI, being charged for tax fraud and money laundering. These corruption allegations severely eroded the Spanish Royal Family's popularity within Spain; according to an opinion poll by the CIS, between 1995 and 2013 the Spanish monarchy's approval rating dropped sharply amongst Spaniards.

As a result of these scandals Spain's position in the annual global corruption ranking published by Transparency International, the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), plummeted sharply in 2013.

The emergence in 2014 of further episodes of corruption that had taken place over the course of the past years and decades was compared to the Italian Tangentopoli episode in the 1990s leading to the episode being dubbed by some media as 'the Spanish Tangentopoli' or 'Black October'.

"Although some of his political associates have not been so fortunate, it seems that Mr. García-Escudero has so far emerged with only a few minor scratches from the various political scandals which have seriously tarnished the public image of the Partido Popular."In October 2014, the judge Pablo Ruz charged a former Partido Popular Secretary General and Minister, Ángel Acebes, with a possible misappropriation of public funds as a result of the Barcenas affair. A few days later, an inquiry led by Ruz unveiled that the Partido Popular could have spent as much as €1.7 million of undeclared money on works of its national headquarters in Madrid between 2006 and 2008. On 27 October, a large anti-corruption operation, Operation Punica, resulted in 51 people arrested because of their involvement in a major scandal of public work contract kickbacks, amounting at least €250 million. Among those arrested were notable municipal and regional figures, many from the Partido Popular, as well as a large number of politicians, councilors, officials and businessmen in Madrid, Murcia, Castile and León and Valencia.

Sources:



By 2016 Spain had dropped even further in the Transparency International CPI and is currently ranked 36th out of 168 countries.

Ana García-Escudero



The name of Pío García-Escudero Márquez who is a leading figure in the Partido Popular and the Chairman of the Spanish Senate since 2011 has cropped up at various times in connection with the investigations into some of these affairs, in particular the Bárcenas affair where he admitted to receiving one of the payments detailed in the secret accounting records known as the "Bárcenas Papers". He said the figure matched a loan of €24,000 Euros which he was given to repair bomb damage to his home after a terrorist attack in 2001 and which he later repaid. However, in 2013 during court proceedings he admitted to the judge that he had not declared the loan to the tax authorities and claimed that this was because he did not know he that he was required to declare it. Details can be found here.

"Considered in the light of the more recent Bárcenas affair and the related cases of "the Spanish Tangentopoli" this was a comparatively minor affair which involved the alleged waste of public funds as a result of the payment of €218,000 in software licensing fees in connection with the official website of the Spanish Senate."Although some of his political associates have not been so fortunate, it seems that Mr. García-Escudero has so far emerged with only a few minor scratches from the various political scandals which have seriously tarnished the public image of the Partido Popular. He is still very much active in Spanish politics and is frequently seen in the company of the party leader and acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. He also appears to enjoy the favour of the Royal Family and regularly appears in photo-ops with King Felipe and his consort Queen Letizia (see our teaser for this article).

The name of a further member of the García-Escudero family has cropped up in relation to another scandal which dates back to 2012. Considered in the light of the more recent Bárcenas affair and the related cases of "the Spanish Tangentopoli" this was a comparatively minor affair which involved the alleged waste of public funds as a result of the payment of €218,000 in software licensing fees in connection with the official website of the Spanish Senate. It turned out that the beneficiary of the Senate's largess was the software company Oracle and that the paperwork for the deal was signed off by Jose Angel Alonso Lopez, director of Information Technology and Communications of the Senate and former president of Oracle Users Circle of Spain.

"The only reason for mentioning these matters is to create public awareness of the political context in which certain members of Battistelli's inner circle operate and to encourage observers of the EPO to keep a vigilant and watchful eye on the "Iberian connection"."Although the Spanish media reported critically on this affair at the time, it failed to mention one small but potentially interesting detail which was subsequently spotted by an observant reader of a Spanish political discussion forum, namely that one of the principal sales consultants at Oracle's Madrid office at the time was a person by the name of Ana García-Escudero who coincidentally happens to be another sister of the Senate Chairman. The details can be found here.

It is important to emphasise that none of the above is intended to indicate that the Spanish delegate to the Administrative Council and recent BOAC appointee, Patricia García-Escudero Márquez, has been in any way involved in any of the aforementioned political scandals or that any allegation of corruption has been brought against her in Spain or elsewhere in this regard.

The only reason for mentioning these matters is to create public awareness of the political context in which certain members of Battistelli's inner circle operate and to encourage observers of the EPO to keep a vigilant and watchful eye on the "Iberian connection".

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