Evidence to back defense of ex-PP treasurer cannot be found

Embroiled in multiple investigations, Luis Bárcenas claims to have taken advice from an unknown lawyer

Former Popular Party treasurer Luis Bárcenas, who is the subject of several criminal investigations, has allegedly provided false testimonies to a judge and prosecutors concerning the wealth he has amassed.

Bárcenas was thought to have stashed away a total of 38 million euros in Swiss banks. But it emerged on Friday that he held 47 million euros in the accounts.

Since 2009, when he was first named as a defendant in the Gürtel public corruption inquiry, Bárcenas has used scores of defense strategies to explain his business dealings and his wife's personal income, according to court documents.

He told anti-corruption prosecutors that the bonuses he authorized to PP officials during his 18 years as manager and treasurer of the party's financial affairs were actually appearance fees, and were subject to tax. Bárcenas said that he took legal advice from a lawyer, Miguel Crisantemo, who suggested that the bonuses be paid out as such. Nonetheless, neither the party nor investigators know where that document is. The Spanish Bar Association has no record of a lawyer named Miguel Crisantemo.

To justify his wife's income — in 2006, she deposited 500,000 euros in 500 euro notes at savings bank Caja Madrid — Bárcenas said that the money she earned came from the sale of a painting to an Argentinean art restorer. When contacted by police, the restorer, Isabel Mackinlay, denied knowledge of the transaction.

Asked by prosecutors about his trips to Switzerland, Bárcenas explained that they were skiing vacations. But a later search by Dresdner Bank found that he had deposited 3.9 million euros in accounts during 29 trips he made to Switzerland.

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