The ruling Popular Party (PP) used undeclared money to pay cash amounts to several party leaders through a slush fund of sorts, according to judicial investigators of the Bárcenas case.
This probe, which is an offshoot of the Gürtel case (a major bribes-for-contracts corruption scandal affecting the PP), seeks to determine whether the party accepted illegal donations from business leaders and whether that money was subsequently used to pay secret bonuses to party chiefs. In his statements to anti-corruption officials last February, former party treasurer Luis Bárcenas admitted to the existence of these bonuses, but described them as “entertainment expenses” that were subject to income tax. High Court Judge Pablo Ruz is also investigating whether the money was donated by businesspeople in exchange for government contracts or other favors from PP leaders.
The cash outlays to PP officials are reflected in secret ledgers kept by Bárcenas, but not in the party’s official accounts, which investigators have examined closely for the 1990-2011 period. Auditors found no trace of payments which a few recipients have already admitted to receiving, and which allegedly went undeclared.
Some of the PP leaders who confessed to accepting cash-filled envelopes are former deputy Jaime Ignacio del Burgo, former Navarrese government official Calixto Ayesa (who said he accepted 23,439 euros between 1991 and 1992), and the Álava official Santiago Abascal (who said he received 12,000 euros from the party in 1999 to cover damage to his business, which had been vandalized). All three have been called in for questioning by Judge Ruz.