Rajoy under pressure: Allegations and Investigations of corruption against the Popular Party of Spain

Catalan MonitorNews Roundup

Photo: Mariano Rajoy, President of the Spanish government, is named, in the investigations.

By Hans-Günter Kellnerm, 13th November, 2017

For ten years, Spanish authorities have been investigating what is the biggest ever corruption case in the country. At the center of the investigations: the conservative party of Mariano Rajoy, The Partido Popular (Popular Party, and its alleged double accounting, illegal donations from construction companies and bribes.

At 74 years, Miguel Ángel Aguilar is stil one of the most active political journalists in his sector, and one who likes to go against the grain. Having heard a seemingly interminable discussion on the topic of Catalonia on Cadena Ser (radio station) last week, he lost his patience.

“How long have we been sitting here? 40 minutes? And all we have done is talk about Catalonia. While the head of the department of economic crime of the police just declared that the Popular Party is by definition, a criminal group, within the parliament of Spain. This fact to me at least, seems much more important. That’s why I have come to the conclusion that a good national flag can cover a multitude of sins. It is a shame that we are now distracted, only dealing with Catalonia, while others take the money in wheelbarrows at home.

“This is an organization that has worked like this for many years”

Aguilar refers to this quote from police officer Manuel Morocho, Head of the Anti-Economic Crimes Unit leading the Investigative Commission within Parliement, charged with investigating the scandal around donations to political parties. Whilst the journalist’s description is more lyrical, Morocho does not mince words in summarizing his knowledge of the PP and the network of companies involved:

“This is an organization which has been in operation for a long time. It has completely infiltrated our public administration. It has reproduced like a parasite in this administration, taking advantage of opportunities for politicians to transact, receive and spend money. They have used the politicians. We are talking about corruption in its purest form.”

As a civil servant, he is frequently subject to great political pressure and that is why despite his directness, he must be very careful with what he says. Seven times, members of the Partido Popular have sued him, and seven times the judiciary has dismissed the lawuits. And whilst his investigative commission into the political donation scandals has now gotten air time in Spanish Parliament, there are still outstanding court rulings in the affair.

He will of course be called to testify again, as an investigating officer. According to his investigations this money has gone to “black money” accounts within the Partido Popular. About the politicians who obtained money from these accounts, he has previously declared in parliament that “these are people, who have been members of that political party [the Partido Popular] or who have held a position within its organizational structure”.

And after a question from a parliamentarian he previously confirmed the names of many politicians with high positions in the Popular Party. And when asked if the name of the President of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, came up in his investigation of those who received money from these “black accounts”, he responded, “according to our evidence, yes”.

President Rajoy involved in corruption scandals

The Popular Party points out that so far there is a single charge levelled by the police, and the prosecutor, which could be invalidated by a defense lawyer in the courts.  It also warns against the undertaking of a parallel process, the aforementioned Investigative Commission in Parliament. Carolina Bescansas of Podemos (“We can” party) however, asserts a contrary belief, and are in support of maintaining the Investigative Commission.

“There are different judgments. Not all cases are the same. They have referred to the financing of the Popular Party, but these have occurred in different regions of Spain. This is why justice cannot yet expose a complete picture of what happened in a single trial. This cross-boundary investigation is exactly what we want to achieve in the commission”.

From the point of view of this leftist parliamentarian, this cross-boundary puzzle conjures up an image of a corrupt organization, masterminded by former Popular Party treasurer, Luis Bárcenas.

“According to obtained documents belonging to Bárcenas, the 10 to 15 largest construction companies in the country were members of this club. Before holding parliamentary elections, the club would meet and decide which works needed to be undertaken and included them in the Popular Party program. This would explain the construction of airports where no planes ever landed, just before the economic crisis, or the bankruptcy of highways projects, which had to be rescued by the state with subsidies.”

It also seems that the Spanish citizenry are becoming more interested in these issues of state corruption. Listeners calling in to the radio of late, can often be heard to be complaining that the dominance of the theme of Catalonia over all others in the media at present, could be at the expense of [tangentially-related] fundamental issues of greater importance.

 

Original Link (German): http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/rajoy-unter-druck-korruptionsermittlungen-gegen-spaniens.795.de.html?dram:article_id=400500

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