THE PP'S HIDDEN FINANCES

Opposition demands truth from PM over ex-treasurer’s revelations

“Bárcenas has papers that could topple government,” says lawyer Former PP moneyman asks judge to unblock his bank account to cover costs of his defense

The fallout from the latest revelations about the alleged illegal financing of the Popular Party, made by its former treasurer Luis Bárcenas over the weekend, continued on Tuesday as one of his close confidants claimed that the ex-moneyman possesses documents that could bring down the government. Opposition parties called on Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to offer explanations.

Miguel Durán, the lawyer for one of the suspects in the Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts corruption case, said the papers showing that the PP ran a parallel accounting system “are originals.” He added that “there could be more, and they could bring down the government.”

The lawyer, who visited Bárcenas at the Soto del Real prison in Madrid on Monday, told Catalan broadcaster RAC1 that the former PP moneyman had handed the ledgers over to the newspaper El Mundo via an intermediary because “he considered it his civic duty.” EL PAÍS broke the story in January of this year when it published copies of the documents.

In the wake of the new revelations, the opposition Socialists (PSOE) and the United Left group (IU) called on the prime minister to resign if he is unable to tell the truth about his party’s finances.

PSOE deputy secretary-general Elena Valenciano said on Tuesday that all the signs indicated that the PP has been “mixed up in an illegal funding scheme” for the past 20 years. Furthermore, she said, the “cleanliness of elections” was in doubt.

Valenciano also called on Rajoy to immediately appear before Congress to provide an explanation.

“If Rajoy cannot tell the truth, he will have to go,” Valenciano said after an extraordinary meeting of the PSOE’s permanent executive committee to discuss the situation following the publication of the original ledgers.

“It is not the honor of Mariano Rajoy, but of the prime minister of the government of Spain that is under question.”

At the same time IU general coordinator Cayo Lara noted that if Bárcenas was telling the truth, the prime minister would have to resign and call new elections.

In an interview published in El Mundo newspaper on Sunday, but conducted before he was remanded in custody nearly two weeks ago, Bárcenas revealed that the PP had been illegally financing itself for at least 20 years, receiving cash donations from construction firms and other businesses in exchange for contracts from PP-run administrations.

It was the first time he had publicly confirmed the revelations that he ran a parallel accounting system for the party while treasurer.

On Tuesday the PP rejected the ledgers published by El Mundo in a statement almost identical to the one it issued after EL PAÍS first brought them to light back in January. There were only three differences in the two texts: the first is the explicit naming of EL PAÍS in the older statement, while the latter only refers to a “media outlet;” the second is the removal of a warning that it would be consulting its advisors over possible legal action; while the third relates to the addition of references to the legal system.

In a further development on Tuesday, Bárcenas asked the judge investigating his case, Pablo Ruz, to unblock one of his embargoed bank accounts so that he can pay for his defense.

Lawyers for the PP’s ex-moneyman made the request to the National High Court before announcing they would be giving up his defense in the wake of the new revelations published over the weekend.

The written statement said that blocking the account constituted a “very serious limitation of the right to defense” since, as they argued, the last two transactions recorded in the account corresponded to the payment of “professionals who work on his legal defense and to the experts from whom his defense have likewise solicited a professional opinion.

“They are above all suspicion,” it claimed.

The statement also made reference to three other blocked accounts, two of which are in the name of Bárcenas’ wife, Rosalía Iglesias. The lawyers argued that blocking her accounts has rendered Iglesias defenseless by depriving her “of her means of support.”

The fourth account, the lawyers argued, is opened in the name of Conosur Land, a Spanish firm, and thus subject to the regulation of the tax agency and the investigating court.

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