POLITICAL CORRUPTION

Ex-PP treasurer Bárcenas declared 10 million euros under tax amnesty

Politician facing charges in Gürtel probe transferred 2.5 million euros to a New York bank account in 2009

Luis Bárcenas, pictured in 2010. / LUIS SEVILLANO

The former treasurer of the ruling Popular Party (PP), Luis Bárcenas, declared 10 million euros in a controversial tax amnesty decreed last year by the PP government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Bárcenas’ lawyer, Alfonso Trallero, told the television channel Cuatro on Thursday.

The tax agency, which was in charge of the amnesty, is under the direct control of Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro. The amnesty allowed people to come clean on assets they had hidden from the taxman without questions asked by paying a fine of only 10 percent of the funds declared.

Bárcenas and his wife are facing charges of tax fraud and of receiving illegal payments from the ringleaders of the Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts corruption. As part of an ongoing investigation into the case, it emerged on Wednesday that Bárcenas had a bank account in Switzerland in which at one point he had deposited as much as 22 million euros.

The tax amnesty, which was in place last year, took in only 1.2 billion euros when the government had budgeted for proceeds of 2.5 billion. The government subsequently tightened legislation against tax fraud.

Earlier Thursday, EL PAÍS reported that High Court judge in charge of the Gürtel investigation, Pablo Ruz, had located an HSBC bank account in New York to which Bárcenas had transferred 2.5 million euros in 2009 after the Gürtel scandal first broke under investigating judge Baltasar Garzón.

A number of high-ranking PP officials in Madrid and Valencia are implicated in the Gürtel case. Bárcenas, who was also a senator for the region of Cantabria, resigned as PP treasurer in 2009 after he was named an official suspect in the investigation.

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