Magistrate asks taxmen to look into alleged payments by PP to party officials

Possible links between donations and award of public contracts also to be investigated

The judge handling the Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts investigation has asked the Tax Agency for reports on whether any offenses were committed through alleged illegal donations to the ruling Popular Party (PP) and cash payments to top officials, including Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, judicial sources said Friday.

During questioning earlier this week by Judge Pablo Ruz, former PP treasurer Luis Bárcenas acknowledged for the first time that he was the author of secret accounting ledgers on the party's finances that show illegal donations from businessmen, either because they exceeded the 60,000-euro limit imposed for individual contributions or because the businessmen in question were in charge of companies in receipt of public contracts. EL PAÍS published copies of the ledgers on January 31.

The ledgers also allegedly document sums of money paid to party officials in cash. Bárcenas claimed the PP's secretary general, María Dolores de Cospedal, was also in receipt of such payments. Both Rajoy and De Cospedal have denied this.

Ruz's request refers to transactions from 2007 onwards, a period that would not be subject to the statute of limitations. He particularly asked the Tax Agency to examine payments made to the architect Gonzalo Urquijo, who redesigned the PP headquarters in the center of Madrid, and his company Unifica Servicios Integrales.

The judge also called for an investigation to determine if there are any links between the alleged donations made by builders to the PP and public contracts awarded to them that could constitute cases of bribery.

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