POPULAR PARTY

Rajoy talks up economic recovery but ignores corruption revelations

Prime minister blanks threat by former Popular Party treasurer Bárcenas to “topple government”

Mariano Rajoy at the FAES Foundation think-tank meeting on Sunday. / Juan Carlos Hidalgo (EFE)

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy defended the reforms of his conservative Popular Party (PP) government on Sunday, pointing out that green shoots were starting to appear in the economy.

“We cannot say like in other times that Spain is doing well, but we can say that it is doing better and that the direction is correct,” he told a meeting of the rightwing FAES think-thank outside Madrid. “We are much better than last year, but much worse than in July of the year 2015; that it is our aim — you can be sure that we are going to achieve it.”

But speaking in the presence of former PP prime minister and FAES president, José María Aznar, who recently criticized his successor’s policies and demanded tax cuts, Rajoy made no mention of the corruption scandals engulfing the party after new details came to light on Sunday.

In an interview conducted before he was remanded in custody late last month, former PP treasurer Luis Bárcenas told El Mundo that the party had been illegally financing itself for at least the last 20 years, receiving cash donations from construction companies and other firms who were later awarded government contracts. The remarks confirm revelations published by EL PAÍS that he operated a parallel accounting system for the party.

Bárcenas bond

Bárcenas, who is involved in several corruption scandals, must produce 43.2 million euros within the next eight days to cover civil liabilities should he be found guilty in the Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts case, a High Court judge ordered on Friday.

This bail will not, however, get him out of preventive prison, since Judge Pablo Ruz feels there is a good chance that Bárcenas might try to skip the country.

The man who handled the conservative party's finances between 1991 and 2010 is being investigated for tax fraud, bribery of public officials, money laundering, document forgery and fraud. Recently, he was found to have 47 million euros stashed away in secret Swiss accounts.

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