MADRID – Top leaders of Spain’s ruling conservative Popular Party, headed by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, have called a meeting to discuss revelations that the party’s former treasurer, ex-Sen. Luis Barcenas, held 22 million euros ($29.3 million) in Swiss bank accounts.
The PP’s Executive Committee, which is made up of the party’s top executive and legislative officials at the national and regional levels, is scheduled to meet on Monday.
Reports about the large sums held in Switzerland by Barcenas, implicated in an ongoing political corruption scandal known as the “Gürtel case,” erupted this week and the controversy heated up further with new revelations published Thursday by the daily El Mundo, which reported that Barcenas used ill-gotten funds to make under-the-table payments to PP leaders.
Several of those party leaders have denied the allegations, including PP Secretary-General Maria Dolores de Cospedal, who on Thursday vouched for the “honesty” of the party’s leadership and rank-and-file.
Cospedal added that “this is a party in which those who do wrong pay for it” and said the PP will not allow the work of “so many honest people who have worked for the country” to come to naught.
For his part, the leader of the main opposition Socialist party, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, demanded “immediate” explanations from Rajoy regarding the revelations about Barcenas’ Swiss bank accounts.
He also called for the dismissal of Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro if it is shown that the tax amnesty the government approved last year allowed Barcenas to regularize 10 million euros of the 22 million euros he held in the Swiss accounts.
Barcenas resigned as the PP’s treasurer in April 2010.
The Gürtel case involving alleged bribery, influence-peddling and money laundering implicating top PP officials came to light four years ago as a result of an investigation by crusading Judge Baltasar Garzon.
Last February, Spain’s Supreme Court convicted Garzon of illegally ordering wiretaps to monitor conversations between several defendants in the Gürtel case and their attorneys and barred him from the judiciary for 11 years. EFE