PP FINANCES

Bárcenas tells judge he took advantage of government tax amnesty

Former PP treasurer repatriated 10 million euros from Swiss account last year

Former Popular Party treasurer Luis Bárcenas told the High Court on Wednesday that he repatriated 10 million euros he held under one of his businesses in a Swiss bank account and paid the Spanish Treasury one million euros in taxes through the government's amnesty plan approved last March.

Bárcenas, who is under a money laundering investigation, turned over evidence to Judge Pablo Ruz that purportedly shows the money he declared under the amnesty had been held in an account in the name of a company called Tesedul.

In court papers filed by his lawyers, Bárcenas said he was turning over the information so that Ruz "can have a clear idea of what has occurred."

Since Swiss authorities told Spanish officials earlier this month that they traced 22 million euros in accounts linked to Bárcenas, opposition lawmakers demanded to know how much the former PP senator declared under the amnesty program. During an appearance in Congress last week, Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro said he could not release data concerning any taxpayer.

Bárcenas, who has also come under fire for allegedly passing out cash-filled envelopes as bonuses to other PP leaders while he served as a party finance manager and then treasurer, told the court that if he had more money stashed away he would have repatriated it and paid the 10-percent special rate under the program.

"Never hid identity"

Montoro said that he couldn't find the former treasurer's name among the 29,065 persons who took advantage of the amnesty, which has now ended. But the minister said he didn't know whether any of 618 companies also in the list belonged to Bárcenas.

In his motion to Ruz, the defense lawyer said that Bárcenas never "hid the fact from Swiss banks that he was a Popular Party employee and senator during that time."

"If he really wanted to avoid that money being discovered, the most logical thing for Mr Bárcenas would have been to transfer it to other entities or other tax havens," the lawyer said.

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