Spain’s Prime Minister has issued a firm denial of ever having received any illegal payments.
In an address to parliament, Mariano Rajoy said he was only breaking his silence now because allegations made by the ruling Popular Party’s former treasurer were damaging the country.
“I made a mistake in trusting the wrong person. Yes, I made a mistake in believing in what I thought was an innocent man, but I’m not covering up for the accused,” said Rajoy.
Rajoy also accused rival political leaders of spreading what he described as “lies, manipulations and malicious insinuations”.
“It’s surprising the ease with which some in Spain are able to make judgements and believe mere suspicions and baseless accusations without any proof,” added Rajoy.
But the leader of the opposition, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba hit back by accusing Rajoy of hurting Spain by refusing to resign.
“You lied on March 2 when you spoke about the Popular Party’s accounts… you said that everything you were accused of was false and that you had not received any illegal payments when you were a minister,” said Rubalcaba
The renewed allegations stem from a handwritten ledger made public a month ago by Luis Barcenas, who is currently facing tax fraud charges.
He has told judges that he collected millions of euros in cash donations from construction magnates and distributed them to party leaders.
Barcenas is currently on remand after it was found that he had more than 47 million euros stashed away in Swiss bank accounts.