Judge gives banks deadline to hand over information about ex-PP treasurer

Magistrate trying to find out where the €50 million held by Bárcenas in Switzerland came from

Bárcenas is taken to the Soto del Real prison in a Civil Guard van.
Bárcenas is taken to the Soto del Real prison in a Civil Guard van.SANTI BURGOS

Banks used by Luis Bárcenas have been given five days to provide the High Court with information about every transaction carried out by the former Popular Party (PP) treasurer, his wife and his son between 2009 and 2013.

Examining Judge Pablo Ruz, who has said that he will not be extending this deadline, is trying to determine what Bárcenas did with the €50 million or so that he concealed for years in Swiss bank accounts, and partly repatriated following the Gürtel bribes-for-contracts scandal, for which he is being investigated by the courts.

Investigators suspect that part of that money came from secret cash accounts that the ruling PP kept between 1990 and 2008, and which Bárcenas was in charge of as the party treasurer. These unofficial ledgers suggest illegal party financing through donations that were in excess of the legal limit and whose donors were often government contractors trying to get preferential treatment in future public bids.

Bárcenas, who has been under scrutiny on and off since 2009 for the Gürtel corruption scandal, could be charged with money laundering, tax fraud, bribery of public officials and procedural fraud.

Rosalía Iglesias made cash deposits of €294,000 in Bankia between 2004 and 2007

Besides the disgraced treasurer’s bank history, Ruz also wants information from Spanish lender Bankia regarding the €294,000 in cash that his wife Rosalía Iglesias deposited between 2004 and 2007. Iglesias made another deposit of €149,000 in April 2005 in a Barcelona bank to pay for an apartment the couple bought in Baqueira Beret. In January 2006, Bárcenas’ wife deposited half-a-million euros in Caja Madrid. Her husband claimed this money came from the sale of artworks, although the claim was later proven to be false.

The judge has also given the PP five days to hand over the notarized documents granting Bárcenas power to manage the party’s finances, as well as those that revoked this power. Ruz wants to assess whether the entire responsibility for the accounts lay with Bárcenas or whether other PP officials had oversight. The former treasurer and María Dolores de Cospedal, the party’s secretary general, have provided different dates.

In various court statements, Bárcenas also said that renovation work to PP headquarters in Madrid was paid for through the secret cash fund, as was the purchase of new premises in La Rioja.

His most recent revelation to the judge is that Francisco Álvarez-Cascos, a former public works minister and ex-secretary general for the PP, allegedly handed him the key to a secret safe containing the money that did not appear in the party’s official accounting.

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