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PP'S HIDDEN FINANCES

Bárcenas controlled PP accounts until 2011, court papers show

Filings by tax office with investigating judge contradict party’s version under which ex-treasurer had resigned two years earlier

The former treasurer of the governing Popular Party (PP), Luis Bárcenas, controlled the party's bank accounts at least until 2011, two years after he was named as an official suspect in the Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts case.

This revelation, which is contained in court papers filed by the Spanish tax office as part of an investigation into the party's funding and its ex-treasurer, is in contrast to the PP's side of the story.

According to the party's secretary general, María Dolores de Cospedal, Bárcenas resigned from his role as treasurer in July 2009, when his alleged involvement in the Gürtel scheme emerged.

But the documents sent to the judge investigating the Bárcenas case show that not only did the former treasurer control the party accounts until 2011, but that he also acted as the PP's legal representative with the tax office until the same year.

Bárcenas, who is in jail awaiting trial, has been at the center of a funding scandal involving the PP since January, when EL PAÍS published the so-called "Bárcenas ledgers," accounting papers that allegedly show a double-accounting system within the ruling party. According to the papers, and Bárcenas' own admission, the party was receiving irregular donations from Spanish firms, and regularly paying out cash bonuses to a number of high-profile party figures, including De Cospedal herself and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

De Cospedal has vociferously denied ever having received cash payments from Bárcenas, and is embroiled in a civil court case against the former treasurer, who was found to have stashed millions of euros away in offshore bank accounts.