PP FINANCES

Socialist Party to lodge criminal complaint over illicit PP bonuses

De Cospedal hits back with claim that opposition figures made fortunes when ruling Castilla-La Mancha

Socialist Party leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba announced on Sunday that his opposition group will file a criminal complaint before the High Court asking for an investigation into the alleged payments of bonuses from secret accounts held by the Popular Party (PP) to its officials.

In the wake of the discovery that the PP’s former treasurer, Luis Bárcenas, had 22 million euros in a Swiss account, Rubalcaba also said that he will call for a parliamentary investigation into the matter and demanded that both Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro appear before Congress.

"Rajoy is not fully aware of the situation we are in," Rubalcaba said, referring to the latest reports that Bárcenas, who left the treasurer's position in 2009 and his Senate seat a year later, still has an office inside the PP headquarters in Madrid.

Bárcenas and his wife have been under investigation for more than three years for alleged tax crimes and money-laundering counts stemming from the massive Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts inquiry. In 2009, he stepped down as PP treasurer temporarily but made it permanent the following January.

If we have to review the party's finances 1,001 times, we will do so"

PP's De Cospedal

According to investigatory sources, Bárcenas received a lot of cash donations from different companies and may have funneled some of the money to PP officials, including Rajoy and former Prime Minister José María Aznar. The PP has stated that it is not unusual for its leaders to receive bonuses, such as stipends and representation fees, but all the income has been reported to the tax authorities.

Speaking at a hockey center in Madrid, Lucía Figar, the education commissioner and PP spokeswoman for the regional government, said her party "must cooperate with justice" to clear up all matters pertaining to Bárcenas. "The first people that were shocked by [his Swiss account] were indeed our party leaders," she said.

For her part, PP secretary general María Dolores de Cospedal on Sunday went on the counterattack against the Socialists, saying that many past politicians in Castilla-La Mancha, when it was governed by the opposition party, made a lot of money then.

"There are people who were leaders in Castilla-La Mancha who have vast fortunes and no one has offered any type of explanations," said De Cospedal, who is now the region’s premier. "If we have to review the party's finances 1,001 times, we will do so but our accounting is clean."

The day before, directing her statements at the outpouring of criticism by the Socialists, De Cospedal said that "everyone should keep a watch on their own affairs." Rubalcaba answered her on Sunday saying that she has "only fueled suspicions" that there existed a secret account which Bárcenas used to pay out bonuses.

The scandal inside the party is expected to come to a head on Monday when Rajoy presides over the PP national executive committee meeting.

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