A former director of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party has admitted to a judge that he was paid out of a slush fund, fuelling opposition demands for a full parliamentary probe into the scandal that has rocked a government reeling from a persistent economic crisis.
Mr Rajoy and the PP have been under fire since newspaper El País published ledgers in January allegedly detailing payments from a slush fund to senior party figures, including the premier, who has denied any wrongdoing.
State broadcaster TVE said former PP treasurer Cristóbal Páez testified before Judge Pablo Ruz, saying he had received a total of €12,000, making him the first senior PP figure to admit in court to benefitting from irregular payments.
Protesters jeered Mr Páez and other past PP bosses when they turned up at a Madrid court for a pre-trial corruption investigation. Páez took over as treasurer in 2009 from Luis Bárcenas, who was named as a suspect in a corruption probe.
Mr Bárcenas has been remanded in custody since June, when he was found to have amassed €48m in Swiss bank accounts.
Opposition Socialist leader Alfredo Pérez-Rubalcaba accused Mr Rajoy of misleading parliament in his denials of Bárcenas’s allegations.
“We Socialists will not allow a prime minister to go to parliament and lie,” he said.
Mr Rajoy told MPs Mr Bárcenas was no longer in the PP when he took office in December 2011, but El Mundo published a wage slip showing the former treasurer drew more than €18,000 from as recently as May 2012. The PP said they were redundancy instalments.