Teddy Bautista, Ousted President of Spanish Rights Group SGAE, Plots Return

Teddy Bautista
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Teddy Bautista attends the "Premios de la Musica" awards at Calderon Theater on March 4, 2010 in Madrid, Spain. 

As he awaits trial for misappropriation of funds, Bautista attempts a comeback at the beleaguered Spanish rights society

Eduardo "Teddy" Bautista was the powerful president of Spanish authors rights society SGAE until he was arrested seven years ago in a federal sting operation and charged with misappropriation of funds. He is still awaiting trial in the case, which authorities say cost the organization 20 million euros (almost $26 million), and could be sentenced to seven years in prison.

Meanwhile, Bautista is running for a spot on SGAE’s board of directors -- and possibly a return as president. Having declared his candidacy for the Oct. 26 elections, he broke seven years of silence in the media when he gave an interview to two journalists from Spain’s El Pais newspaper.

In the story, published on Thursday (Oct. 18), Bautista, 74, said that he was returning to public life because he was “tired of being treated like a cadaver.”

He promised to return SGAE to the “good times” of his previous reign, which began in 1995 and ended with his arrest.

“I left [SGAE] with almost 400 million in earnings,” he told El Pais’s Tommaso Koch and Iker Seisdedos. “It was the seventh most important [rights organization] in the world and now it is ranked 26th.” SGAE distributed a total of 248 million euros in royalties total in 2017, according to current president José Miguel Fernández Sastrón.

In the summer of 2017, Spanish agents again raided the organization’s Madrid headquarters, and arrested 18 people suspected of involvement in “the wheel,” a royalty scam involving late night television. This year, the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) revealed its "serious concerns" about SGAE's conflicts of interest, "distorted and inequitable distribution of royalties" and "lack of regard for the common good" in a 65-page report issued in May. Multinational publishing companies Warner/Chappell, Peer Music and EMI Songs have threatened to pull their catalogues from SGAE after they were all ejected from the entity’s board.

The SGAE administration has also been at odds with Spain’s Ministry of Cutlure, which has threatened to intervene and take over the running of the organization. And SGAE is undergoing an audit to investigate possible errors in hundreds of publishing contracts registered with the rights society, according to El Pais.

Bautista said his plan was to come in, fix the problems at SGAE, and leave again. He said that if his trial date came up he would have to quit or take a leave of absence, adding that he doesn’t think Spain’s slow judicial system will set his date in court before the middle of 2019.