Spanish daily tags PM in graft scandal

Spanish daily tags PM in graft scandal

MADRID - Agence France-Presse
Spanish daily tags PM in graft scandal

Spain’s PM Rajoy has denied receiving undisclosed payments. A corruption scandal reignited with the publication of an handwritten account ledger. REUTERS photo

A corruption scandal implicating Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reignited July 9 with the publication of an original handwritten account ledger apparently showing illegal payments to him while he was a minister.

The document published by El Mundo newspaper fanned a scandal that has outraged Spaniards suffering in a recession and had sparked calls for Rajoy to resign earlier this year. His ruling Popular Party hotly repeated its denials of any illegal payments to its members, while the opposition Socialists demanded Rajoy himself explain himself.

El Mundo published a page from what it said were original account ledgers showing payments to Rajoy and other party members in the late 1990s.

In January, top center-left daily El Pais had published what is said were photocopies of the accounts showing the secret slush fund payments.

El Mundo published for the first time what it said was the front and back of a single, original page from the ledger, which it said dispelled doubts over whether it could have been fabricated.

It said the ledgers were compiled in part by the party’s former treasurer Luis Barcenas, who is now behind bars facing corruption charges. The party has distanced itself from Barcenas and has said it has no fear of possible revelations by him from his prison cell.

Document handed to court

El Mundo editor Pedro J. Ramirez handed the original account document to the courts on July 8 a few hours after he received it, El Mundo said, without revealing its source. The excerpt purportedly showed extra payments to party officials including Rajoy when he was a minister in then Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar’s government in 1997, 1998 and 1999. The entries include two payments to Rajoy of 12,600 euros in 1998.

The paper said the payments flouted a 1995 law barring such supplementary payments to members of the government. Rajoy has denied receiving undisclosed payments. He resisted calls to resign after the revelations published by El Pais in January, which fuelled angry street protests.