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CORRUPTION

PP secretary general claims all accounting books are legitimate

Ruling party will ask prosecutors to examine finances, De Cospedal announces

Architect’s fees for remodeling headquarters are included in bookkeeping, PP claims

María Dolores de Cospedal and Mariano Rajoy, pictured on Monday. Ampliar foto
María Dolores de Cospedal and Mariano Rajoy, pictured on Monday. EL PAÍS

Reacting to a High Court writ stating that there is evidence that the Popular Party (PP) ran a parallel accounting system, the political group reiterated on Monday that its bookkeeping is in order and announced that it will ask public prosecutors to examine all its spending.

The party’s secretary general, María Dolores de Cospedal, told reporters that the PP isn’t the target of any court investigation, and as such she will ask anti-corruption prosecutors to take a look at the party’s accounting, including the 5.6 million euros it spent on remodeling its headquarters in Madrid.

“All payments are included in the PP’s accounting. All of them,” De Cospedal said emphatically after the national executive committee meeting on Monday. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy also met with PP members behind closed doors, but didn’t speak to reporters afterwards.

On Friday, High Court Judge Pablo Ruz said that “circumstantial” evidence exists that the PP maintained an accounting system that ran parallel to the one it presented to the Court of Auditors for examination earlier this year. The judge said that undeclared funds received were used to pay architect Gonzalo Urquijo for remodeling the PP’s Madrid headquarters. These are “reflected neither in the receipt of funds nor in the official accounts but in the parallel, or under-the-table, accounting system,” Ruz said.

The total payment for the remodeling is included in the party’s accounting”

“I don’t want to insinuate anything about the judge’s order,” De Cospedal said. “But what I want to say is that in the party’s accounting there is a payment recorded for [the headquarters]. Later, there are entries for other people. But the total payment for the remodeling is included in the party’s accounting.”

Ruz is handling the money-laundering and corruption case against former PP treasurer and senator Luis Bárcenas, who kept accounting ledgers that allegedly show bonus payments made to Rajoy, De Cospedal and other top PP officials, as well as the money coming in from private businessmen in the way of cash contributions over the past 20 years.

Bárcenas, who is being held at Madrid’s Soto del Real prison in preventive custody, is expected to appear back in court this week.

For his part, Socialist leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba announced on Monday that he will ask the judge for a face-to-face confrontation in court, as provided by Spanish law, between Bárcenas and De Cospedal. The Socialist Party has joined the Bárcenas case through the filing of a private prosecution.

De Cospedal and Bárcenas have already had a face-to-face encounter in court, which took place in October in Toledo. The secretary general had filed a civil lawsuit against Bárcenas and EL PAÍS for defamation over the allegations in the ledgers. She dropped the suit against this newspaper after Bárcenas — who took part in the session through video conference — admitted that he was the author of the ledgers.

Other PP officials immediately followed her lead, and also dropped lawsuits they had filed against EL PAÍS, which first published the ledgers on January 31.