August 6, 2014 / 5:59 PM / 5 years ago

Architect Calatrava charged as suspect in Spanish construction case

MADRID (Reuters) - Award-winning architect Santiago Calatrava, designer of New York’s Ground Zero transport hub, has been charged to appear as a suspect in an investigation into a public construction contract in Spain, a court said on Wednesday.

He was contracted in 2008 by the Valencia government to design and build an emblematic building for a convention center, a project that was never started due to Spain’s economic crisis and ensuing austerity drive.

Newspaper El Pais reported that Calatrava was paid 2.7 million euros ($3.6 million) for architectural models and design for the building in Castellon, a province in his home region.

No one at his Zurich offices was available to comment.

Calatrava, who also designed the Milwaukee Art Museum, will appear before the Castellon provincial court on Sept. 2, the Valencia High Court said in a statement.

A charge to appear before a judge is a step taken before being formally charged with a crime under Spain’s legal system.

The court also wants documents from the authorities detailing how Calatrava was hired without the process being made public, which for contracts over a certain minimum value is also an offense in Spain.

Several senior public officials involved have also been charged over alleged wrongdoing in the way the work was contracted.

Calatrava was fined this year by another Spanish regional court for faulty work at a conference center in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo.

Reporting by Inmaculada Sanz; Writing by Elisabeth O'Leary; Editing by Louise Ireland

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