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CORRUPTION

Popular Party not guilty of tax crimes, says anticorruption attorney

In pre-trial report, prosecutors ask for five-year prison terms for two former party treasurers

Former PP treasurer Luis Bárcenas walks out of the High Court.
Former PP treasurer Luis Bárcenas walks out of the High Court.Julián Rojas

The ruling Popular Party (PP) did not incur in tax crimes when it used over €888,000 in undeclared funds to pay for reform work at its Madrid headquarters.

This is the conclusion reached by anticorruption prosecutors investigating claims that the conservatives kept a parallel accounting system for illegal financing purposes.

On Monday, the prosecutors filed their final report on the Bárcenas case – named after one-time PP treasurer Luis Bárcenas, who claims to have kept secret handwritten ledgers for his former employer.

The prosecution’s report certifies that the secret accounts really did exist

Anticorruption attorney Antonio Romeral is asking for a five-year prison term for Bárcenas and for his predecessor, Álvaro Lapuerta, who are both accused of misappropriating funds, forging documents and incurring in tax crimes.

Although the political party itself is not considered guilty of tax crimes, the prosecution’s report certifies that the secret accounts really did exist, and that the PP has civil liability for the alleged crimes of its former treasurers.

A month ago, the High Court concluded a lengthy investigation into the Bárcenas case. In a 190-page report, examining magistrate Pablo Ruz asserted that the PP kept parallel accounts between 1990 and 2008 and used this undeclared money, which often came from illegal donations, to pay for election campaigns, under-the-table bonuses to party officials and reform work to PP premises.

More information
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Now, the anticorruption prosecutor supports this theory and notes that while they held the treasurer’s post, Bárcenas and Lapuerta “managed cash funds provided by donors who were barred from giving under party finance legislation.” The prosecutor’s report also underscores that these cash inflows and outflows were not reflected in the official accounts that the PP presented to the Audit Court.

Parts of these secret accounts were first published by EL PAÍS in January 2013, leading to widespread media coverage of the case. Bárcenas also faces charges in the related Gürtel investigation into a bribes-for-contracts scheme affecting many PP officials.

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