For 20 years the treasurer of Spain’s now governing People’s Party (the Partido Popular or PP), Luis Bárcenas accrued behind-the-scenes power among the conservatives, privy to many secrets. Then scandal erupted in January.
The newspaper El País published what it said were photocopies of party accounting. This unofficial second set of books bore the tell-tale appearance of Bárcenas’ handwriting.
If it is proven that these documents are genuine, they would demonstrate illicit financial activity, and that leaders in the party received cash payments outside the rules.
The PP’s secretary-general, among others, flatly denied any wrong had been done.
María Dolores de Cospedal said: “The PP’s accounting is singular, clear, transparent, clean and submitted to the Court of Auditors.”
Demonstrators protesting against political corruption, outside the PP headquarters in central Madrid, demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his government.
After an urgent meeting, Rajoy said there was no truth in any of the allegations, which were also levelled at him.
He said: “It is false. I have never, ever received or redistributed black money, either in this party or anywhere.”
The head of the socialist opposition, in the annual state of the nation debate, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba reiterated Rajoy and his team should step down.
He said: “I asked the head of the government to leave his post, saying he should let someone else take over; I believe that would be best for Spain.”
Two weeks ago, a judge denied Bárcenas bail, saying he was flight risk, and ordered him kept in prison during a pre-trial investigation. The accused had continued to refute the published papers’ authenticity. Now he said in an interview with the daily El Mundo, ‘I lied,’ and that he had handled far more illegal donations to the party, from companies.
Yesterday, the paper published what it said were the originals written by the ex-party treasurer.