Former Popular Party (PP) lawmaker Jorge Trías on Wednesday told anticorruption prosecutor that ex-PP treasurer Luis Bárcenas himself had shown him unofficial ledgers he kept on cash bonus payments handed over in envelopes to party members and donations from companies that exceeded legal limits, according to judicial sources.
However, in his appearance before the prosecutor, Bárcenas stuck to the line that the PP had not kept hidden accounts parallel to its official declarations to the tax authorities, and that copies of ledgers published by EL PÁIS were not compiled by him. He also denied that any cash payments had been made to party officials.
A number of experts have verified that it is Bárcenas' handwriting in the published ledgers. The person most cited in the accounts covering the period 1990-2008 was Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who has denied receiving any cash-filled envelopes from Bárcenas. Rajoy was allegedly given 320,000 euros during that period.
After leaving the prosecutor's office both Trías and Bárcenas declined to make any statement, or answer questions on what they had been asked during their separate summons. However, Trías did say: "I have done my duty."
The judicial sources said Trías had first seen the ledgers some years ago. When shown the 14 pages of accounting documents published in EL PAÍS by prosecutor Antonio Romeral, Trías said without a doubt that they were the same as those shown to him by Bárcenas.
Trías Sagnier told EL PAÍS that money was regularly handed out in envelopes to leaders
As he left the building with his lawyer after answering questions for three hours, Bárcenas was subjected to jeers from members of the public waiting for him outside. "Thief," "where's my envelope," and "scoundrel" were among the jibes aimed at him.
The scandal has become a major political headache for Rajoy at a time when the public is suffering the full impact of a draconian austerity drive during a recession in which unemployment has risen to a record 26 percent.
A new poll out by the Center of Sociological Research (CIS) shows a significant drop in the PP’s approval ratings among Spanish voters.
The gap between the PP and the opposition Socialists has closed considerably since Rajoy won the elections in November 2011.The Socialists are now trailing the PP by 4.8 percent compared to the 12.7 percent difference in the last general elections.
The poll was taken between January 4 and 14 before the ledgers’ scandal broke.