The Audiencia Nacional, Spain's high court, on Tuesday sentenced businessman Gerardo Diaz Ferran to two years and two months in prison for defrauding the Treasury of 99 million euros (about $135 million) in the purchase of Aerolineas Argentinas by Air Comet.
Prosecutors had requested two years and four months behind bars for Diaz Ferran while the defense demanded that he be released.
The court also imposed the same sentence on the former president of Air Comet, Antonio Mata, two months less than prosecutors had requested.
Besides the jail time, the court imposed a fine on the two men equivalent to the amount of money involved in the fraud, prohibited them from obtaining public subsidies or aid and the right to enjoy fiscal incentives or benefits or social security for four-and-a-half years, and also imposed disqualified them from exercising their right to vote during the period of the sentence.
This is the first conviction for Diaz Ferran, the former president of the Spanish CEOE trade association, who has been in prison for a little over a year and has other trials pending.
The pair committed fraud using public funds belonging to Spanish state-owned holding company SEPI to get rid of Aerolineas Argentinas, a firm with "very serious" financial problems, the court said.
SEPI sold to Air Comet 99.2 percent of Interinvest, a business established in Argentina which was the owner of 92.1 percent of the capital of Aerolineas Argentinas, and which Diaz Ferran and Mata used as a "front" because it paid no taxes in Spain. EFE