Bárcenas back on prosecutor's hook in renewed fraud probe

Former Popular Party treasurer's wife under scrutiny over 500,000 euros cash deposit

The wife of former Popular Party (PP) treasurer Luis Bárcenas, Rosalía Iglesias, faces renewed scrutiny over a 500,000 euros cash deposit made in 2006 after tax authorities placed a fresh accusation with the judge overseeing the Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts scandal.

Judge Antonio Pedreira gave defense and prosecution counsel 10 days to decide whether to pursue the fraud case against Iglesias, which was shelved by the judge in May, 2010. Pedreira said at the time that Iglesias "lacked the technical knowledge" to be involved in a fraud operation he investigated between 2002 and 2003, in which the names of Bárcenas and jailed Gürtel ringleader Francisco Correa cropped up. However, the judge warned that Iglesias could face charges when a full judicial investigation of her tax history had been completed.

"I have never handed anyone that amount of money"
More information
Charges dropped against former PP deputy in Gürtel case
Prosecutors file appeal in Gürtel case dismissal

The tax office, which launched its own investigation in November 2010, stated that Iglesias failed to provide sufficient justification for the deposit into her current account, consisting of 1,000

500-euro bills.

In all, the account in Iglesias' name about which Pedreira received information contained

one million euros, despite the former PP treasurer's wife having no declared income of her own.

Iglesias claims that the 500,000 euros came from the sale of artworks acquired in 1987 for a sum of 1,803 euros, which were then sold in 2006 for 558,196 euros.

The authorities believe that the sum pertains to "an unjustified claim of hereditary profit" as Iglesias had no other source of income. Had she been able to provide proof of sale, she would not have had to declare it due to the length of time elapsed since the original purchase. The tax office, though, stated in its report to the Madrid public prosecutor that Iglesias could not account for the nature of her property, who she sold it to, or provide evidence of the sale.

The report was forwarded to Gürtel investigators: "As the tax agency complaint makes mention that Rosalía Iglesias is the wife of Luis Bárcenas, implicated in the Gürtel investigation, the charges therein could have an intimate connection with the object of that investigation," read the public prosecutor's summary. The report has been handed to anti-corruption investigators, who have asked that the case against Bárcenas, shelved earlier this month, also be reopened.

When Iglesias testified before Pedreira in 2010, the 500,000-euro deposit had not been uncovered. The judge asked Iglesias about a real estate deal in which she supposedly invested 25 million pesetas (150,000 euros), a sum paid by Correa to Bárcenas through an offshore society owned by the Gürtel chief, according to investigators.

"Look, I have never had 25 million pesetas in my hands. I'm grateful to you for giving the amount in pesetas because if not I wouldn't know how much we are talking about. I've never handed anyone that amount of money," she said.

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS