Spanish party treasurer grilled as corruption scandal grows

Protesters yell 'thief' as former banker Luis Barcenas leaves after three-hour examination

Protesters booed the former treasurer of Spain’s Partido Popular (PP) party as he left the prosecutor’s office after being questioned over allegations of corruption that have rocked the country’s government.

Luis Barcenas, a former banker, is accused of involvement in the channelling of payments through secret accounts from managers of construction companies to PP party leaders, including the Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, who has faced calls from the opposition to resign over the allegations.

After being grilled for three hours by Spain’s anti-corruption prosecutor, protesters booed and yelled “thief” as Mr Barcenas left the Madrid court escorted by police. He has denied all the allegations.

Prominent PP members – including Mr Rajoy – have denied any wrongdoing and libel cases have been started against El País, the newspaper which published nearly two decades-worth of what it called “the PP treasurer’s secret accounts” last week.

The anti-corruption prosecutor also heard preliminary statements from other leading figures in the case, including Jorge Trias, a former PP legislator who has claimed irregular payments of what he called “envelopes with money” had been made to members of the party hierarchy.

Alvaro Lapuerta, who had preceded Mr Barcenas as the PP’s treasurer and who also denies any involvement, is due to be questioned today. Mr Barcenas also faces allegations in another financial scandal known as the “Gurtel case” in which he is charged with bribery, money laundering and tax evasion. An investigation is underway into his Swiss bank account, which contained €22m (£19m). Mr Barcenas claims it was legitimate business income.

The Gurtel case has intensified suspicions over the so-called “secret papers” – and increased public anger against a seemingly interminable wave of political corruption cases. Mr Rajoy’s awkward denial, saying “it is all untrue, except for some things,” hardly helped to clear what appear to be murky political waters.

More than 750,000 people have signed an online petition demanding that Mr Rajoy quit, a demand echoed by opposition leader Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba. Spain already has around 300 elected officials from different political parties tarnished by corruption investigations – around 80 of them involving mayors or ex-mayors. However, although Mr Rajoy’s approval rating had dropped to 19 per cent before the scandal broke last week, analysts believe that he will not be forced to resign.

That is not to say frustration with Mr Rajoy and his party is low. Anger at the political classes is steadily rising amongst a population struggling amid 26 per cent unemployment and a relentless series of public spending austerity measures. Figures published yesterday showed that the PP’s popularity had sunk to its lowest level since 2007.

Backlogs in Spain’s judicial system mean it could take years for the courts to decide whether criminal charges could be brought against Mr Rajoy. In a sign of tensions within the PP, a regional leader in Madrid, Esperanza Aguirre, has called for reforms to speed up the judicial process.

Meanwhile, the corruption allegations have opened up what markets analysts expect to be a period of volatility, with political uncertainty keeping bond yields flat.

Juan Rosell, president of Spain’s leading business community organisation, the CEOE, called the scandal “a catastrophe” that had come “just as we were improving our [international] image”.

voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn