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18 arrested in raid on Spanish PRO SGAE

Police have entered the offices of the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores for the second time in six years, investigating an alleged royalty scam dubbed 'the wheel'

By Jon Chapple on 21 Jun 2017

SGAE HQ, Longoria Palace, Madrid, Luis García

SGAE's HQ at Longoria Palace in Madrid

image © Luis García

Police yesterday made 18 arrests as part of a new investigation into alleged corruption at SGAE, the troubled Spanish performance rights organisation (PRO).

Agents of the Specialised and Violent Crime Unit (UDEV) raided SGAE’s offices in search of documentation relating to a scam dubbed ‘the wheel’ (la rueda), which saw SGAE members and TV execs allegedly conspire to create “low-quality music” – often reworked versions of songs in the public domain – which is then broadcast on late-night TV, generating performance royalties collected by SGAE.

El País reports that a small group of SGAE members have been turning la rueda for a number of years, with them listed as the composers of the songs and the TV stations as publishers, so the royalties are split between two ways. The newspaper says the scam has netted those involved several millions euros over a number of years.

SGAE members and TV execs allegedly conspired to create “low-quality music” broadcast on late-night TV, generating royalties collected by the PRO

Television channels believed to be involved in the scandal are TVE, Telemadrid, Euskal Irrati Telebista, Castilla-La Mancha Televisión, Radiotelevisión Canaria and Televisión de Aragón.

SGAE’s offices were raided in 2011 as part of a probe – dubbed Operation Saga – into the alleged misappropriation of funds meant for creators.

Four former employees, including ex-president Teddy Bautista, were last September cleared of all charges, with the National Court of Spain citing “insufficient” evidence for the allegations. (CMU notes, however, that Pedro Farré – a one-time ally of Bautista – has since authored a book, Cazado, “about his time expensing drugs and prostitutes” to SGAE. Make of that what you will.)

IQ has contacted SGAE for comment.


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