PP denies illegal financing despite progress in High Court probe
Socialists demand explanation of ruling party’s “lies” over Bárcenas papers
Even though records prosecutors have in their possession allegedly show illegal donations made to Spain's ruling Popular Party (PP), the conservative grouping on Thursday vehemently denied that it had collected contributions that were outside of the law.
“The PP’s accounting is in line with what the law states and demands. It has nothing to do with the purported documents of Luis Bárcenas,” Esteban González Pons, the second deputy PP secretary general, said in reference to the party’s former treasurer whose handwritten ledgers are being scrutinized by the High Court.
González Pons was speaking to reporters in the hallway outside Congress after the Socialists in the chamber had demanded explanations.
Balance sheets and ledgers penned by Bárcenas show that dozens of wealthy and influential businessmen made generous contributions for nearly 20 years to the now-ruling party. The papers, which were first published by El PAÍS on January 31, also show that top party officials, including Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, received fat cash bonuses on top of their regular salaries. Rajoy, according to the ledgers, collected more than 320,000 euros during an 18-year period.
“The PP has never been financed by illegal means — the party’s finances are legitimate and have nothing to do with the Bárcenas papers. We will never grow tired of giving these explanations, whether it will be in front of a judge or in the public arena. Our accounts are clean, transparent and have been submitted to the Court of Auditors,” González Pons said.
The Socialists directly accused Rajoy and PP secretary general María Dolores de Cospedal of lying about their party’s finances.
“What is evident is that the accounting from the so-called Bárcenas papers is true,” said Antonio Hernández, the Socialist secretary for institutional relations. He told reporters, also outside Congress, that High Court Judge Pablo Ruz has all the information, including records from businesses that are apparently listed in the ledgers.
Among other matters, Ruz is investigating whether the alleged contributions by fat cat Spanish businessmen had anything to do with government-awarded contracts which circumvented a formal bidding process. Allegations that some businessmen collected huge sums of money for such contracts in exchange for giving kickbacks to PP politicians is at the heart of Ruz’s inquiry known as the Gürtel case.