The co-founder of Podemos, the Spanish anti-austerity party that is aiming to emulate Syriza’s victory in Greece, on Friday denied allegations of illegal party financing.
Speaking at a press conference after nearly a month out of the spotlight, Juan Carlos Monedero said he had not illegally funded Podemos with €425,000 that he allegedly made from advisory work for the governments of Venezuela and other Latin American nations.
In late January, Monedero paid around €200,000 in back taxes and penalties after it emerged that he had not declared that income to the Spanish tax authorities.
Yet Podemos’s number three figure failed to produce either contracts or copies of the work he said he carried out for the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), alleging that this group’s charter prohibits it.
“I asked for permission to show the invoice, but the statutes of Banco del Alba confer confidentiality to its work. And I signed a confidentiality clause,” he told reporters.
According to Monedero, his collaboration with ALBA began in 2010, three years before he created a company named Caja de Resistencia Motiva2 Producciones. It was this business that officially charged the €425,000 for the consulting work.
Monedero, who teaches politics at Madrid’s Complutense University, said he was the victim of “a witch-hunt” and aimed his criticism straight at Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro.
“I find it a matter of serious concern that Montoro, who is also my minister, is using this behavior to try to intimidate me,” he said about the Tax Agency’s inspection and notice.
“I would like for the minister to act automatically against all the people on the Falciani list,” he added, in reference to a leaked document from HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary listing hundreds of people with secret accounts.
Monedero also said Montoro was “ultimately responsible” for leaks to the media about people’s fiscal information.
Juan Carlos Monedero
The top aide to Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias said none of the money he made advising Venezuela and other countries was used to fund the new party.
“Not one euro of financing was channeled from Caja de Resistencia to Podemos,” he said. Instead, the money was spent on La Tuerka, a televised political talk show hosted by Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias. Monedero did not produce any documents to back up that claim, either.
The media event was punctuated by the presence of Alberto Casillas, a waiter who gained notoriety on September 25, 2012 when he faced up to riot police charging against demonstrators in the “Surround Congress” protest in Madrid. Videos of the incident made him an instant celebrity.
In June of last year, Casillas showed up at a Podemos event at the Ritz, where he loudly asked party leader Pablo Iglesias what kind of advisory work he did for the government of Venezuela under Hugo Chávez – a foundation with ties to Podemos leaders received at least €3.7 million from Chávez over the course of a decade.
This time, Casillas – who lived in Venezuela for 25 years and says he had to emigrate because of the Chávez regime – was removed by police before he could formulate any questions, but he was hauled away screaming “Democracy was lost in Venezuela because of attitudes like these!” The press conference was delayed for an hour, The Huffington Post reported.