FCC, Acciona executives arrested in Spanish water firm investigation

MADRID, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Two high-ranking executives at Spanish builders Acciona and FCC were arrested as part of an investigation into irregular concessions at state-run water contract company Acuamed, sources involved in the matter said.

The two were among 13 people arrested after Spanish police raided Acuamed’s offices in Madrid, Barcelona and other cities on Monday, in the latest corruption scandal over the way public contracts were handled during Spain’s boom years before its 2008 property crash.

FCC and Acciona did not confirm the arrests. Company spokesmen said their headquarters were raided by police on Monday as part of the investigation, which is being led by Spain’s High Court. They said they were cooperating with the investigation.

Several executives at Acuamed have also been arrested.

Spain’s Interior Ministry said on Monday 35 people would be placed under investigation in the coming days, meaning they are likely to have to face questioning in court.

The Agriculture Ministry said on Tuesday it would request an external investigation into Acuamed’s contracts over the past few years.

Acuamed, which comes under the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, had fraudulently allocated building projects and falsified certifications in order to fatten payments to contractors, police said in a statement on Monday.

The public backlash against corruption scandals in Spain has taken its toll on politicians, with the traditional parties on the right and left ceding votes in an inconclusive Dec. 20 general election to newer forces campaigning hard against graft. (Reporting by Carlos Ruano and Andres Gonzalez, writing by Sarah White; editing by Susan Thomas)