“Circumstantial” evidence exists that PP kept parallel accounts, High Court says
Undeclared payments to architect recorded in ex-party treasurer’s secret ledgers correspond to bills seized from architect’s office
The High Court judge investigating the ruling conservative Popular Party’s finances argued that “circumstantial” evidence exists that the group maintained an accounting system which ran parallel to the official one it presented to the Court of Auditors.
In a writ released Friday, Judge Pablo Ruz speaks of the “presumed existence of a certain continual financial flow of receipts and payments over time on the side of the official accounts sent to the Court of Auditors.”
Ruz goes on to argue that the undeclared funds received were used to pay the architect Gonzalo Urquijo for renovating the PP’s Madrid headquarters. These are “reflected neither in the receipt of funds nor in the official accounts but in the parallel, or under-the-table, accounting system.”
The investigation into the PP’s accounts came after EL PAÍS on January 31 published extracts from secret ledgers maintained by the former treasurer of the PP, Luis Bárcenas, who is currently in preventive custody and faces charges of tax fraud and money laundering.
Judge Ruz said there is a correspondence between the amount and timing of payments Bárcenas allegedly made to Urquijo and bills found in the office of the architect during a raid carried out on September 27.
As part of a defamation suit brought by PP secretary general María Dolores de Cospedal against Bárcenas, the former PP moneyman confirmed that he had kept the ledgers and had personally handed over undeclared cash bonuses to De Cospedal drawn from illegal donations to the party by businessmen. He has also alleged that Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy received bonus payments. Both Rajoy and De Cospedal have denied his allegations.
In response to Judge Ruz’s writ, the main opposition Socialist Party called on Rajoy to appear urgently in Congress to answer the accusations. “Mr Rajoy and Ms De Cospedal cannot carry on lying and hiding themselves,” the Socialists’ party secretary, Óscar López, told a news conference. “They have the obligation to tell Spaniards the truth and accept the consequences.”
Referring to a previous remark by Rajoy in Congress that everything Bárcenas claimed “was false except a few things,” López said the latest findings by the judge show that “everything was true.”
PP withdraws suit against EL PAÍS
The Popular Party has withdrawn a lawsuit against EL PAÍS over the publication of the Bárcenas papers in light of the former party treasurer having since admitted that the ledgers obtained and published by the newspaper were authentic.
In a document presented by PP lawyers to a Madrid court on Tuesday, "the disappearance of a legitimate cause" for defamation is accepted.