Spanish government employee Joaquin Garcia has been enjoying full employee benefits and salaries even though he has not reported to work in six years.
The civil servant, who worked for a water treatment agency in southern Spain was finally caught, ironically, after becoming eligible for a long service award, reports the BBC.
Dubbed by local media as the “Phantom Official,” Garcia has not been seen by his manager in his office for years despite occupying an office opposite his. His absence was only noticed by the deputy mayor when he became eligible to receive a plaque for 20 years of service.
The local court ruled that Garcia is to pay a fine of €27,000 ($30,000) for his absence, which is equivalent to a whole year’s pay after tax, the most the agency can take according to Spanish law.
Garcia has denied the allegation and claimed that he had been bullied politically and was assigned to be a supervisor of a wastewater treatment in Cadiz with nothing to do. However, he didn’t report the situation so that he could still provide for his family without having to find another job.
Garcia has since retired and gone into hiding after claiming to have suffered a media “lynching.” He has also sought the mayor’s help to waive the fine and review the court ruling.