From Development server
22 January 2015

Helga Schmidt, General Director of Valencia’s Palau de les Arts, Arrested on Charges of Financial Irregularities 

Veteran Administrator Relieved of Post By Valencia's Regional Minister for Culture

H elga Schmidt, general director of Valencia’s Palau de les Arts, was arrested yesterday after authorities acted on charges of financial irregularities at the Spanish house, news agencies have reported. Schmidt’s arrest came hours after the regional minister for culture, María José Català, announced that she would also be relieved of her duties at the house.  

Schmidt was detained along with Ernesto Moreno, who served as the house’s manager from 2007 through 2011, after allegations of misconduct and a complaint filed by a former worker at the Palau de les Arts. El Paīs has reported that the Comptroller of the Generalitat ordered Schmidt’s arrest after documents surfaced that alleged that the house contracts awarded by the organization did not follow the appropriate processes and that funds had been misappropriated.

Schmidt, 73, who was born in Vienna, is a veteran opera administrator, and has held important administrative posts at the Vienna State Opera and Covent Garden; she has also served as a frequent competition adjudicator and artistic advisor for organizations and orchestras that include Amsterdam’s Concergebouw and London’s Royal Symphony Orchestra. In 2005, at the time of the opening of the Palau de les Arts, she was appointed as the director of the institution and she had announced her intention to retire in 2016.

Schmidt was reportedly released from police custody late yesterday after posting bail. News agencies in Spain have reported that authorities intend to call her in for police questioning. 

Schmidt had previously drawn criticism and accused of conflicts of interest for simultaneously earning two salaries — one as a representative of the Palau de les Arts and another as a representative of the Patrocini de les Arts, the company created to attract private sponsorship for the Palau, which reportedly awarded her commissions amounting to €508,000. Likewise, Schmidt’s personal business expenses have also come under increased scrutiny. 

The next scheduled performance at the Palau de les Arts is a revival of Jonathan Miller’s production of Don Pasquale slated for January 31. spacer 

More information can be found at Valencia Today, Las Provincias and El País  

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