Many people in the city of Valencia know the Spanish official in the following story as “the man who was never there.”
After getting too comfortable in his political position, he began taking advantage of the “passive attitude” of his department. But after tricking the system for ten years, he was finally exposed.
Carlos Recio was a Spanish public servant working as an archives director in Valencia’s provincial government. He was paid 50,000 euros in salary to show up at the office every morning at 7:30 am and clock in using the fingerprint scanner.
According to El Mundo, Recio was assigned to the Provincial Archive on March 7, 2006 with a newly created job as head of unit. According to the decree issued by the then president of the Diputacion de Valencia, Fernando Giner, Recio was assigned very clear functions that he had to carry out.
Being that Recio would be the head of the Bibliographic Action Unit, he would control the supervision of bibliographic funds of the Archive after the distribution of funds from the provincial library. Recio was responsible for the exhibition projects and publications, relations with archives and libraries of the province, and consolidation of dissemination projects with other social and cultural entities.
According to the decree, Recio’s political position required him to perform all of these tasks inherent to the job and professional category entrusted to him. But one day it was discovered that since Recio was appointed, he never even had a table or computer, or any functional task in the team of researchers.
For 10 years, Recio would show up at the office every morning at 7:30 am and clock in using the fingerprint scanner before heading home. He would then return to the office at 3:30 pm to clock out. This routine went on for years.
“A Man Of Action”
Recio claimed that he worked from home. He told the Spanish TV channel La Sexta, “No one can show me a photograph in which I’m in a cafeteria, I’m a man of action. I do documentation work out of the office, the work of a slave.”
Working Like A Slave
“Working like a slave means that I work so that others get the fruit of my labor,” Recio added. He claimed that he would sign in and then leave the facility, only to return when it is time to sign out because he “developed projects outside.”
No Concrete Evidence
But none of his direct managers had any idea what these projects were. Recio said that he couldn’t provide documentation or specific information about his supposed task during the last 10 years “for reasons of confidentiality.” He defined his work as itinerant to justify that he does not need to physically be at his office to work.
“During the last months, I have been gathering information about the Year of Vicente Blasco Ibanez.” But when asked about his project, Recio emphasized that when the time and place comes, he will justify everything he has done at the Provincial Council.
He urged, “I have only done what they have asked me to do,” while arguing that he is a victim of the system. Recio even tried to justify his absence telling El Mundo, “It is not necessary to appear (at work). … Someday I will tell you why they sent me to the Archive.”
There was no evidence however, that Recio performed any of the jobs he claimed and that he hadn’t even logged in to the corporate network since 2012, despite having his own computer. There is also no evidence for Recio’s claims that he told superiors he didn’t have a desk following an office relocation, or that he had been assigned to an external project to create an “inclusive art center.”
Failure To Supervise
The judge said, “There is not the slightest evidence that [Recio] was entrusted with the project of creating an inclusive art work center or similar and the activities carried out by him are more like private dedications than authentic ones.” The judge strongly criticized the local government of Valencia for failing to properly supervise its employees.
Comfortable In His Situation
“[Recio] became comfortable in the situation that benefited him” and his actions would not have been possible “without the disinterest of the administration for which he worked,” the judge said. The court believed that Recio had been busy in other ways.
Erotic Comic Book Artist
In his free time, Recio was making a name for himself as an erotic comic book artist and creator of the popular character Fallarela, a busty superhero who hurls flaming Valencia oranges at her enemies. It also emerged that Recio was running a male brothel out of his home since 2005.
Clearing His Name
At one point, he threatened to reveal the identities of his clients, eluding that there may have been cameras inside and the “graphic information” could compromise many politicians. As part of a high-profile campaign to clear his name, Recio even attempted to use a council venue for an art exhibition entitled, “Love for Valencia: the works of a man who never worked.”
The exhibition had four floors of works including paintings, sculptures, and even a bronze bust of himself, according to News AU. But the City of Valencia cancelled the show right before it was due to open after the council discovered he had booked the venue using a fake name.
Recio was then described as “the most slandered writer in modern-day Valencia.” The details of this bizarre case have dominated the headlines in Spain, after the judge declared that Recio was only suspended. He somehow dodged the most serious sanction of permanent loss of his status as a public official, despite tricking the system for a decade.
Recio says his ruling “came to perceive his retributions without any consideration on his part, beyond a merely formal compliance with the systems of time control.” Recio even alleged that his absences were not the result of his will, but of an operation of labor harassment and that he was denied access to the dependencies of the Diputacion’s archive.
Still, the judge considers the “clear intentionality” of Recio not to go to work, equally serious. He adds that Recio’s attitude “has led to a serious discredit of the public image of the Administration.” One Valencia official said, regarding Recio, “I have not seen this man (Recio) in the file.”
“It is a situation known by all the Diputacion but no measure has been taken in all these years by any higher authority,” he added. In its editorial, El Mundo said it had received many tip-offs that Recio’s case was “not, by far, the only scandal of blatant absenteeism in public administrations.”