PP'S HIDDEN FINANCES

Jailed ex-treasurer turns up heat on Popular Party

Bárcenas sends judge evidence that predecessor used alleged slush fund

In his latest effort to turn up the heat on Popular Party (PP) officials, former treasurer Luis Bárcenas has turned over an array of documents to the High Court that purportedly show that his predecessor, Álvaro Lapuerta, personally managed the slush fund allegedly used to pay bonuses to the party’s hierarchy.

The SER radio network on Monday revealed that Bárcenas, who has been in preventive custody since June, wrote a letter to High Court Judge Pablo Ruz on New Year’s Eve detailing financial transactions authorized by Lapuerta, who served as treasurer from 1993 to 2008. The letter, which was sent to Ruz through his lawyer, Javier Gómez de Liaño, was accompanied by bank documents signed by Lapuerta, including statements that show the alleged party financing of the conservative news website Libertad Digital.

Lapuerta, 86, has been placed under investigation by Ruz as he continues his inquiry into the slush fund and the Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts scheme, which is alleged to involve a network of businessmen and a number of PP officials. Lapuerta has not given testimony in the case because he is in delicate health.

The new documents provided to the court by Bárcenas allegedly show that the PP bought 1,270 shares in Libertad Digital for 139,700 euros in 2004. According to Bárcenas, the order was given from the PP hierarchy to give financial help to the business. The information about the payout was also detailed in the secret accounting ledgers kept by Bárcenas, which allegedly show the payments of cash bonuses to high-ranking party officials, including Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

The ledgers were first published by EL PAÍS on January 31, 2013.

The jailed former treasurer has reportedly been angry at his former PP colleagues for not helping him with his legal problems. Bárcenas was sent to prison after Ruz determined that he was a flight risk and might also tamper with evidence in the ongoing investigation.

Lawyer’s visit

In his missive, Bárcenas tells Judge Ruz that a PP lawyer, Javier Iglesias, visited him at Soto del Real prison to ask him “to maintain dignity with respect to certain information” that “personally affects” party members.

“Well, seven months later I continue to maintain the same dignified behavior I have maintained all my life,” he told Ruz. He added that he hoped Lapuerta, who still has good relations with many PP officials, “finally has the high moral judgment” to detail for the court his role in administering the secret slush fund.

It is expected that Bárcenas will release more documents in the coming weeks.

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