Ex-PP treasurer claims party financed 2004 European race with secret funds

Luis Bárcenas reveals alleged election crime to judge investigating Palma Arena scandal

Luis Bárcenas arrives at the High Court in February 2013.
Luis Bárcenas arrives at the High Court in February 2013.cristóbal manuel

Indicted former Popular Party (PP) treasurer Luis Bárcenas has accused ruling party officials of using money from secret accounts to partly fund the group’s 2004 European elections campaign.

Bárcenas, who faces trial this year in the mammoth Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts case, made the revelations during testimony before the Balearic Islands judge investigating an offshoot of the separate Palma Arena corruption scandal – which involves the construction of a sports complex in Palma de Mallorca – relating to alleged illegal financing of the regional PP.

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Bárcenas’ confession means attributing an alleged election crime to the national Popular Party.

The former treasurer, who spent 19 months in preventive custody until he was granted bail in January, also told Judge José Castro that payments and donations by Balearic Islands businessmen were made to party officials during the administration of former PP regional premier Jaume Matas (2003-2007). The magistrate is investigating whether these payments were made in exchange for government contracts under Matas’ mandate.

Matas, a former Cabinet minister, is serving a nine-month sentence for influence peddling.

Construction of the PP headquarters in Palma was funded by builder Antonio Pinal de Brues and other businessmen after national party officials invited them “to lend a hand,” Bárcenas said.

The former treasurer recently told Balearic regional lawmakers a similar story relating to the construction of an area hospital.

But he said help from Pinal and other individuals, whose names he did not reveal, was an act of generosity and was not in exchange of public work contracts.

The Balearics businessman under investigation declined to answer questions in court about his government contracts

Pinal and other businessmen paid for the building of the PP regional offices, he said, adding that at  the petition of the influential businessmen, PP national officials flew over to the Balearics for meetings at the offices.

Pinal, who is an official target in the investigation, won more than €90 million in public contracts during Matas’ term. On Wednesday, he declined to answer questions in court except to say that he had never made donations to a political party.

Judge Castro read off a list of the buildings, parking garages, official offices and a section of a highway that Pinal built through public contacts in the Balearics.

Rodrigo de Santos, a former councilor for urban planning in the Balearics who is now serving a seven-year-term for corruption, is cooperating with the investigation. De Santos told investigators that Pinal confessed one night during a dinner that he paid for the PP offices in Palma.

The witness also explained that PP officials under Matas asked for a three-percent commission on all contracts worth more than €500,000.

Matas himself asked for a €9 million commission for the construction of the Son Espases Hospital in Palma – a contract that was worth €635 million, De Santos said.

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