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Corruption scandal

Names in Barcenas' 'secret papers' include Rajoy and former ministers

AP

Madrid

01/31/2013

According to El Pais, the documents showed that as of 1997 Rajoy received some €25,000 each year

  • Former PP treasurer Luis Barcenas. Photo: EFE

    Former PP treasurer Luis Barcenas. Photo: EFE

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Politicians and government officials named in a list presumed to be "secret accounts" of former PP treasurer Luis Barcenas include Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy and former ministers Angel Acebes, Javier Arenas and Francisco Alvarez Cascos.

According to El Pais, the documents showed that as of 1997 Rajoy received some €25,000 each year. El Pais did not specify whether former premier Jose Maria Aznar's name appeared on the lists but said the initials J.M. did.

Leading newspaper El Pais published what it called the "secret accounts" of former treasurer Luis Barcenas, with copies of alleged records from several years ago showing names and amounts received. The money was allegedly paid by businesses, many in the construction sector, via Barcenas.

The scandal broke when the National Court reported recently that Barcenas amassed an unexplained €22 million ($30 million) in a Swiss bank account several years ago.

This is the first time a newspaper has published images of documents allegedly showing the names of party members and the payments they received as well as sheets showing company names and their donations.

Many of the payments occurred during Spain's boom years of the late 1990s when the Popular Party was in power and the construction industry made the country one of the most successful economies in the European Union.

Spain's governing Popular Party insisted Thursday its financial accounts were totally legal and denied fresh newspaper reports of regular under-the-table payments to leading members.

In a statement Thursday the party denied the existence of hidden accounts or "the systematic payment to certain people of money other than their monthly wages."

Party secretary general Maria Delores de Cospedal, one of the alleged recipients, denied having received payments at a press conference in which she defended the party.

The party denies there were ever illegal bonuses or payments and Rajoy recently said he would deal with culprits severely if it were proven to be otherwise. He also ordered internal and external audits of the party's books.

In previous years anonymous donations were legal for Spanish political parties. It remains to be seen whether party members declared all their income.

Sacrifice

The corruption scandal is the latest to rock Spain, with myriad cases involving bankers, politicians, town councilors and even the royal family. But it has shocked people more given that Rajoy and his party have demanded enormous sacrifices of Spaniards as the country battles recession and 25 percent unemployment.

Barcenas, who served in the party's treasury for 20 years, resigned in 2009 after he was first named in a National Court probe into alleged irregular financing practices by the party.

His lawyer, Alfonso Trallero, has denied the Swiss account money was illegally obtained or linked to the Popular Party.

Trallero also raised eyebrows when he announced that Barcenas had recently taken advantage of a controversial government amnesty for tax evaders to "regularize" roughly half the Swiss account money, something the Finance Ministry denied.

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