A High Court judge has completed a long investigation into secret accounts allegedly kept by former Popular Party (PP) treasurer Luis Bárcenas, and found that there is enough evidence to bring the case to trial.
In a 190-page report, Judge Pablo Ruz concludes there is reason to try Luis Bárcenas and Álvaro Lapuerta, two former treasurers for the conservative party, as well as the heads of Unifica, the architects’ studio that refurbished PP headquarters in Madrid and accepted a €1.55 million payment in undeclared money.
Ruz has dropped the case against 22 other suspects, including ex-PP secretary general Ángel Acebes
The examining magistrate also says that the PP itself may have incurred in a crime by failing to pay tax on €1,050,000 of illegal donations it accepted in 2008 from donors who went over the legal limit or were barred from making cash gifts because they were government contractors.
But Ruz has dropped the case against 22 other suspects, including businesspeople who donated money into the parallel accounts and former PP secretary general Ángel Acebes.
The inquiry finds that there is enough evidence to support the claim that from 1990 to at least 2008 the PP “made use of various forms of financing outside the legal economic circuit.”
During those 18 years, the party now headed by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy operated “through various account systems that recorded monetary inflows and outflows outside the official accounting declared by the party and filed with the Audit Court.” These other accounts served “as parallel accounts, cash boxes or money on the side.”
Ruz is also launching an offshoot investigation into a garbage collection contract awarded to a Toledo firm that Bárcenas claims was a form of payment for a €200,000 campaign donation for Castilla-La Mancha premier María Dolores de Cospedal in 2007. De Cospedal is also the current secretary general of the PP.
The Bárcenas scandal broke when EL PAÍS published part of his secret ledgers on January 31, 2009. The treasurer at first denied having kept them, then later admitted to it.
Luis Bárcenas is also facing a variety of other charges in connection with the Gürtel kickbacks-for-contract case, which is now going to trial after a five-year investigation. The PP illegal funding scandal is an offshoot of the Gürtel inquiry.