Spain’s Director of Public Prosecutions Eduardo Torres-Dulce said yesterday that his department would investigate the allegations of undeclared handouts and illegal funding in the Partido Popular “to the very end”. He said that “there is nobody at this stage who does not want the matter cleared up for the good of everyone involved”. This week former PP party treasurer Luis Bárcenas has undergone a forensic handwriting test to check the validity of the leaked documents, which he denies are his. On Monday after a meeting with Angela Merkel in Berlin, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that all the allegations regarding his party’s books were false, “except some things”.
This week Luis Bárcenas has denied allegations of dodgy PP bookkeeping. The former Partido Popular treasurer underwent a handwriting test on Wednesday to check the validity of the accounts sheets leaked to the press.
After a week of allegations of irregularities in the Partido Popular’s accounts, former party treasurer Luis Bárcenas was questioned by the anti-corruption prosecution department on Wednesday.
He had been called in as an ‘imputado’, that is, an accused party, which entitled him to answer questions in the company of his lawyer, with no obligation to tell the truth. As expected, he denied all the accusations that emerged from the alleged alternative party accounts published by El País newspaper last week.
The books showed, in what is considered by experts to be Bárcenas’s handwriting, undeclared payments apparently made to PP party leaders between 1990 and 2009. If the allegations turn out to be true, the accounts indicate that Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy received an annual sum of 25,200 euros from this slush fund over a period of eleven years.
In a television interview broadcast on 13TV earlier this week, Bárcenas also denied all knowledge of the alleged salary top-ups.
During his three hours of questioning at the prosecution service, Bárcenas underwent a forensic handwriting test to officially check the validity of the leaked accounts. The media had already beaten them to it, though. This newspaper group asked the president of the professional association of handwriting experts and graphologists, Enrique Juan Madruga, to analyse the papers. He concluded that “there are similarities between the two samples, both in the global composition and in the spatial placement.”
As he left the prosecution office on Wednesday Bárcenas was met with cries of “Thief”, “Delinquent” and “Where’s my envelope?” from the people gathered outside.
Bárcenas, who already faces corruption charges in the Gürtel case, has been the subject of a string of revelations in the last two weeks. Before the suspect accounts appeared came the news that the former party treasurer had a bank account in Switzerland that at one point had contained as much as 22 million euros. Then it transpired that Bárcenas had legalised 11 million euros, taking advantage of last year’s fiscal amnesty.
Now the judge in charge of the Gürtel case, Pablo Ruz, investigating to what extent the suspects used the amnesty, has come across a second Swiss bank account. This is thought to be where Bárcenas transferred funds after the Gürtel scandal broke out in February 2009.
This week the judge requested more information from the tax office to ascertain whether any of the others accused of embezzling public funds in the Gürtel case also used the tax amnesty to ‘legalise’ money. This has sparked a legal debate as to whether someone officially accused of embezzlement is entitled to take advantage of a tax amnesty.
Corruption ring paid for minister’s children’s birthday parties
Spain’s Health Minister Ana Mato has been plunged into a delicate situation by the latest revelations in the Gürtel corruption investigation.
Mata has always maintained that she no longer had a marital relationship with former husband Jesús Sepúlveda when he allegedly received bribes from the businessmen accused of running the Gürtel corruption ring.
Sepúlveda resigned as mayor of Pozuelo de Alarcón when he was accused of receiving more than 400,000 euros ‘under the table’ from the Gürtel ring between 2000 and 2005. Recent allegations state that during that period the family enjoyed more than 50,000 euros’ worth of holidays as well as birthday parties for their children, with clowns included, and other gifts, all paid for by the accused.
Now papers from the tax office have revealed that the minister_Ana Mato was in f act still married to Sepúlveda during that period, while she has always declared that he had been her “ex-husband” since 2000.
The minister has admitted that she has never divorced the father of her children but maintains that they are separated. The couple still had a joint bank account at least until March 2009.
Since standing down as mayor of Pozuelo, Sepúlveda has been employed by the Partido Popular, although he works from home.