Sunday 22 October 2017

Spanish PM Rajoy named in bribes scandal

Fiona Govan Madrid

Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, was under increasing pressure yesterday after the publication of original documents purporting to show illegal cash payments were made to him while he was a minister.

Excerpts from an accounts ledger of a secret slush fund were published by Spain's 'El Mundo' newspaper, apparently implicating Mr Rajoy and other senior members of the ruling Popular Party.

The documents have reignited a scandal that outraged Spaniards and led to street protests earlier this year calling for the prime minister to resign. 'El Mundo' said the documents showed that Mr Rajoy received secret cash payments during 1997, 1998 and 1999 when he was a minister in Jose Maria Aznar's government.

They purportedly show that in 1998 Mr Rajoy received two payments of 2.1 million pesetas (e12,000) that were undeclared and untaxed and that flouted a 1995 law barring supplementary payments to members of the government.

The ledgers were allegedly handwritten by Luis Barcenas, the disgraced former party treasurer who is in custody facing several corruption charges.

Mr Barcenas was found to have e48m in Swiss bank accounts and is accused of operating a slush fund to channel millions of euros in cash from businessmen to party leaders in return for kickbacks.

Mr Barcenas, who previously denied the authenticity of the ledgers when photocopies were first published in Spain's 'El Pais' newspaper in January, admitted in an interview with 'El Mundo' on Sunday that the documents were genuine.

He said he had lied "as an act of loyalty" to Mr Rajoy and the party but now felt no compulsion to protect them.

Mr Barcenas, who was Popular Party treasurer for almost three decades, said in the interview that the party had been funded illegally through kickbacks for at least 20 years. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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