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THE PP's HIDDEN FINANCES

High Court refuses Bárcenas’ appeal against preventive custody

Magistrates rule that former PP treasurer represents “serious” flight risk

Fernando J. Pérez

The High Court has rejected an appeal by Luis Bárcenas against a judicial order of preventive custody as it considers the former Popular Party treasurer presents a “serious” flight risk. The court also considered the possibility that Bárcenas may attempt to destroy evidence and backed its decision on the “lack of transparency that has governed his conduct.”

The magistrates ruled that Bárcenas, who is under investigation as part of the wide-reaching investigation into the Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts network that also reaches into the political sphere through alleged illegal party financing and cash payments to top PP officials, should remain in custody because of his “large pool of funds.”

Accounts belonging to the former senator in Switzerland contained tens of millions of euros and fiscal reports from that country and Uruguay reflect Bárcenas’ “recently discovered, intense, opaque and cryptic business activity.”

The extent of Bárcenas’ dealings are being brought to light “slowly and inexorably” through mounting evidence, the court said, leading to an “increase in the scope of his possible penal and civil responsibilities, which increases the risk of flight.”

The court also rejected a proposal to electronically tag Bárcenas, arguing that the measure would have “little practical effect,” as although he would be locatable this would not necessarily prevent the destruction of evidence.

Meanwhile, the regional branch of the PP in the Basque Country has responded to Bárcenas' claims that it received illegal financing by accusing the former treasurer of “diverting” money to his Swiss accounts from a “completely legal” charitable collection for party officials who had been the subject of threats by ETA.

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