Anticorruption prosecutors want PP number two to testify in Bárcenas case

Aim is for secretary general Cospedal to explain procedure on anonymous party donations

Popular Party secretary general María Dolores de Cospedal in a press conference on Thursday.
Popular Party secretary general María Dolores de Cospedal in a press conference on Thursday.ISMAEL HERRERO (EFE)

Anticorruption prosecutors want a top official from the ruling Popular Party (PP), secretary general María Dolores de Cospedal, to testify as a witness in the case against former party treasurer Luis Bárcenas, who is being investigated for crimes ranging from tax evasion to accepting kickbacks for contracts.

The prosecutors are asking judge Pablo Ruz to question Cospedal over the party’s procedure regarding “the acceptance of anonymous donations” between 1992 and 2008. This part of the probe is investigating the “Bárcenas papers,” secret ledgers kept by the former party treasurer in which he recorded donations from major builders, developers and others. These donations often violated party funding legislation because they either went over the legal limit of 60,000 euros or were donated by companies with government contracts.

The papers, which were first revealed by EL PAÍS on January 31, also show bonuses paid to high-ranking PP officials, including Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, on top of their regular salaries. Most of the individuals concerned have denied receiving these cash-filled envelopes.

The leftist coalition United Left, which filed a suit over these events, had also requested that former PP secretaries general Javier Arenas and Francisco Álvarez Cascos testify along with Cospedal, but the request was rejected on the grounds that they held the position prior to the dates the courts are investigating.

Some of the businesspeople who show up in the ledgers include the heads of FCC, Sacyr and OHL, all major construction concerns.

The man who handled the conservative party’s finances between 1991 and 2010 is being investigated for tax evasion, bribery of public officials, money laundering, forgery of documents and fraud. Recently, he was found to have 47 million euros stashed away in secret Swiss accounts, and remains remanded in custody until trial. Luis Bárcenas is considered by many to be a walking time bomb who could inflict great damage on the PP if he were to disclose everything he knows.

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