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Gürtel prosecutor: PP benefited from bribery and embezzlement funds

But state accusation does not wish to call in acting PM Mariano Rajoy as a witness “for the moment”

Ex-PP treasurer Luis Bárcenas arriving in court.
Ex-PP treasurer Luis Bárcenas arriving in court. EFE

Spain’s Popular Party (PP) benefited from funds derived from bribery and embezzlement, according to one of the prosecutors at the ongoing Gürtel corruption trial.

But “for the moment” at least, Concepción Sabadell opposes having acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy take the witness stand, as demanded by the private prosecutions in representation of the Socialist Party (PSOE) and the Association of Democratic Lawyers for Europe (ADADE).

It’s been accredited that it is the PP itself that benefited

Prosecutor Concepción Sabadell

This prosecutor has rejected all of the defendants’ attempts to be exonerated from the trial – or to have it altogether canceled.

Sabadell has accepted banking information provided by Swiss authorities as valid evidence in court. These documents involve former PP treasurer Luis Bárcenas, who is a key figure in the case. However, Switzerland has yet to confirm whether the information it provided may be used to prove fiscal crimes.

The sprawling Gürtel case involves a corrupt business network that operated across six regions between 1999 and 2005. It was allegedly run by Francisco Correa (whose name loosely translates as belt, or gürtel in German), a businessman who cultivated relationships with PP officials, allegedly offering them gifts in exchange for government contracts in public works and event organization.

Francisco Correa, the alleged mastermind of the Gürtel network, arriving in court.
Francisco Correa, the alleged mastermind of the Gürtel network, arriving in court. EFE

With nearly 200 official suspects, it became the largest pre-trial probe in modern Spanish history and was broken up into sections to facilitate the investigation. In the end, 37 suspects became official suspects.

One of the ramifications of the case is the suspicion that the PP also indulged in illegal party financing. Secret accounts kept by former treasurer Luis Bárcenas suggest the existence of a slush fund within the conservative party.

On Wednesday of last week, the PP argued that the alleged benefit of €250,000 it made from illegally obtained funds should be attributed exclusively to the party’s municipal groups in Pozuelo de Alarcón and Majadahonda, two wealthy suburbs of Madrid.

But the prosecutor rejected this premise. “It’s been accredited that it is the PP itself that benefited,” said Sabadell.

She also rejected claims that the secret recordings by a Majadahonda councilor that led to the Gürtel investigation should be thrown out of court, or that the alleged crimes have expired through the statute of limitations.

English version by Susana Urra.

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