PP'S HIDDEN FINANCES

Prosecutors want guarantees Bárcenas will remain in Spain

Former PP treasurer appears before High Court Gürtel probe judge to explain Swiss accounts

Anticorruption prosecutors will ask the High Court today to confiscate the passport of former Popular Party (PP) treasurer Luis Bárcenas and order him to remain in the country as an investigation into his Swiss bank accounts continues.

Bárcenas is to appear before Judge Pablo Ruz today to answer questions about his assets abroad and why he never declared them on his income tax returns. According to investigators, Bárcenas at one stage held some 22 million euros in Switzerland.

The former treasurer, who was the PP's moneyman for nearly 20 years, has come under fire for allegedly paying party officials bonuses along with their regular pay through a slush fund that may have been created with cash contributions from companies and businessmen.

Bárcenas, a former senator, was targeted in 2009 for allegedly helping members of the Gürtel corruption ring win fat contracts with local PP governments in Madrid and Valencia. Investigators are trying to find out the sources of Bárcenas' wealth. Since the knowledge of the accounts was made public in January, Bárcenas has made trips abroad, including a skiing excursion in Vancouver where he was tailed by a camera crew. His luxurious lifestyle has ignited public outrage.

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