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Bárcenas summoned by High Court judge in connection with Gürtel case

Former PP treasurer also to appear before anticorruption prosecutors on Wednesday to answer questions on alleged slush fund

Luis Bárcenas runs out of his Madrid home on Tuesday morning. / Carlos Rosillo (EL PAÍS)

High Court Judge Pablo Ruz has summoned the former Popular Party (PP) treasurer, Luis Bárcenas, to appear before him on February 25 to answer questions on possible tax fraud and money laundering in connection with the ongoing probe into the so-called Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts scandal which has embroiled Spain’s ruling party, judicial sources said Tuesday.

The former accounts man for the PP has been shown to have held Swiss bank accounts in which at one point he had up to 22 million euros deposited. Bárcenas took advantage of a tax amnesty introduced by the government last year to declare 10 million euros of the funds in the accounts, paying a fine of only one million.

Ruz has also issued an injunction against Jesús Sepúlveda, the former mayor of Pozuelo, an upscale Madrid dormitory town, to answer questions on alleged irregular payments and gifts made to him and his family by the Gürtel corruption ring in the period 2000-2005. Sepúlveda is the former husband of Health Minister Ana Mato, who has denied receiving luxury goods and trips as gifts from the ring.

In a parallel development, the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday also summoned Bárcenas to answer questions on an alleged slush fund used to supplement leading party’s members’ salaries, judicial sources said Tuesday.

Political headache

Bárcenas, the man behind what has become a huge political headache for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in a case that has attracted the close attention of the international media, is due to appear before the prosecutor on Wednesday.

Former PP congressional lawmaker Jorge Trías has also been cited to appear before the prosecutor. In an interview with EL PAÍS, Trías claimed he was aware of envelopes stuffed with money being handed over to PP officials, records of which were kept by Bárcenas in separate ledgers maintained by Bárcenas.

The injunction follows a probe opened by the anticorruption office on December 24 into an alleged parallel accounting system undisclosed to the tax authorities that recorded the supposed payments to PP members and donations to the party. For the moment there are no indications of the alleged concealed accounting system being linked to Bárcenas’ Swiss bank accounts. However, there are signs that some of the contributions made to the PP could be connected to the Gürtel case.

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