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Spanish prosecutors widen government corruption scandal probe

Europe
05.02.2013
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Madrid (dpa) - Investigating prosecutors in Spain said Tuesday they planned to question the alleged author of secret accounting documents in a huge kickbacks scandal that is rocking the conservative government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

The papers, which were published by daily El Pais, point to secret payments from companies to Rajoy and other leaders of his centre-right People‘s Party (PP) over nearly two decades.

El Pais attributed the documents to former PP treasurer Luis Barcenas, who had already been under investigation for corruption.

The PP denies the authenticity of the documents and the existence of parallel accounting.

Barcenas has said that the handwriting in the documents is not his and suspects an "operation to harass and topple the party and especially Mariano Rajoy."

Anti-corruption prosecutors investigating the case plan to question Barcenas on Wednesday. They are also due to hear Jorge Trias, a former PP legislator who has said that party leaders received "envelopes with money."

El Pais, meanwhile, has handed the secret papers over to the police. The daily agreed to do so on condition of not revealing who had allowed it to access the documents, its director, Javier Moreno, said.

Prosecutors are also planning to investigate whether Barcenas used a controversial fiscal amnesty to legalize about half of a fortune, worth 22 million euros (30 million dollars), that he had stashed in a Swiss bank account in 2007.

The Socialist opposition has accused the government of "tailoring" the fiscal amnesty for Barcenas. The government denies such claims.

So far, prosecutors have found no links between Barcenas‘ Swiss bank account and the alleged secret accounting of the PP.

The escalating crisis facing Rajoy adds to the pressure on his government as it struggles to roll out deeply unpopular austerity measures aimed at bringing Spain‘s long-running debt crisis to an end.

Socialist representative Oscar Lopez said Rajoy‘s situation had become "unsustainable" and called on him resign.

Rajoy had told several versions of the truth, Lopez said Tuesday.

Rajoy had initially dismissed the El Pais report as false. But on Monday he said in Berlin that it was "totally and absolutely false" except for "a few things."

The premier was believed to be referring to some of the payments mentioned in the El Pais documents, which PP members have confirmed as having taken place. dpa sit npr Author: Sinikka Tarvainen

 

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