MADRID — The former financial director of Spain's Guggenheim Bilbao has been sentenced to 32 months in jail for stealing nearly half a million euros (750,000 dollars) from the museum's accounts, the court said Friday.
Roberto Cearsolo admitted taking the money between 1998 and 2008 through small transactions dealing with two companies related to the museum after an audit last year detected the money was missing.
"I have appropriated various amounts for my own benefit for a total of 486,979.38 euros. Since I could no longer live with this situation, I have decided to confess the facts to you," he wrote in a letter sent to the museum's director that was made public at the time.
He said he forged checks and bank transfers from two separate museum funds and to cover up his tracks, he made changes to the 2005 annual accounts as well as several other key accounting documents.
Cearsolo headed the Guggenheim Bilbao's finances since it opened to the public until he was fired last year after the discovery that he has stolen money.
The Bilbao court sentenced him to jail on November 23 after finding him guilty of embezzlement and falsifying documents but the ruling was only announced on Friday.
The Guggenheim Bilbao is one of several museums belonging to the New York-based Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.
The futuristic-looking building that houses the museum, designed by acclaimed US architect Frank Gehry, helped put the Basque city on the world map and began drawing thousands of tourists each year.
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