In Madrid, the trial of Telefonica SA Chairman Cesar Alierta begins today on criminal charges that he illegaly traded shares of tobacco company Tabacalera SA in 1997 and 1998. Bloomberg reports that Spanish prosecutors are seeking a jail term of 4 1/2 years for Alierta. The case was dismissed in 2005 but reinstated after a 2007 ruling by the nation’s supreme court.
Experts in Spain are dubious that Alierta will receive any prison time. “Taking into account past cases you can expect that the trial will probably end without any sentence being handed down,” said Miguel Iribarren, a law professor at the Universidad de Oviedo. “The facts point toward insider trading, but proving it is extremely difficult.”