Spanish government’s corruption scandals

This 10 July 2013 video from Spain says about itself:

On the streets of Madrid there has been a clear message to Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. “Go to jail,” chanted hundreds of protesters in the wake of fresh allegations of corruption in the ruling People’s Party.

Spain’s second largest daily newspaper El Mundo which has played a key role in uncovering other scandals has published what it says are original documents showing payments from an illicit slush fund operated by the PP.

“We are in an unsustainable situation, at our limit. We are being ruled by a delinquent government, supported by [a] criminal structure which is the party and consequently we are in a corrupt system that cannot take it anymore,” said one of the protesters.

Another added, “We have over six million out of work, we have a massive brain drain, we have an excess of qualified people at universities who must emigrate and we can’t take that anymore.”

The documents published in El Mundo show the name of Mariano Rajoy and two payments of 12,600 euros. El Mundo has handed them over to the High Court.

The ledger was reportedly operated by former party treasurer Luis Barcenas. He is being held in custody in a separate corruption case accused of tax fraud and receiving illegal payments.

Esperanza Aguirre, Head of the Popular Party in the Madrid region said: “If there have been irregularities in the party funding we will have to admit, explain and present it in front of the Spanish people with honesty and integrity.”

By Carlos Hernández in Spain:

Spain wracked by corruption scandal

3 December 2014

The Popular Party (PP) government used its majority in Spain’s Congress last week to force through two anti-corruption laws.

The laws had been delayed for months by the refusal of opposition parties to agree to a cross-party pact on corruption proposed by PP Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy last year.

The passing of the laws is a desperate attempt by Rajoy to salvage some support for his party, which has suffered a precipitous decline in the opinion polls, before next year’s elections. “I can understand the irritation and distrust of our citizens but suspicion should not be levelled at everyone,” he pleaded in Congress. “Most politicians are decent people. Spain is not corrupt.”

However, the day before the vote, PP Health Minister Ana Mato became the third minister to resign this year after comments by the judge investigating the long-running Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts case, which erupted in 2008 and involves the bribery of politicians and officials by businessmen in return for profitable public contracts in PP-ruled regions. Mato was accused of having “enjoyed the use of or benefited from” the corrupt activities of her ex-husband Jesús Sepúlveda, a former Popular Party mayor and senator.

Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) leader Pedro Sánchez said his deputies had refused to vote for the laws because the PP had been “irrevocably tarnished” by a series of corruption scandals. He told Rajoy, “You are in no position to regenerate Spain against corruption…You are not able or legitimate to lead.”

Joan Coscubiela … declared, “You have spent years at the epicentre of the biggest corruption case ever… You, Mr Rajoy, are the Mister X of corruption… You are in no position to carry on.”

A probe is ongoing in connection with the Bárcenas affair, involving former PP treasurer and senator, Luis Bárcenas, who is now in jail. He kept a parallel bookkeeping system for years, recording undeclared cash donations which were used to pay bonuses to senior party members, including Rajoy and current secretary general María Dolores de Cospedal.

Last month, police arrested 30 people in 13 Spanish provinces on allegations of rigging public contracts for the maintenance of public parks and gardens. … Among the charges the suspects face are money laundering, price fixing in a public tender, commercial document fraud and tax offences.

At the end of October, 35 arrests were made, including six mayors from the Madrid region and the chief of the provincial authority of León for involvement in a bid-rigging scheme worth as much as €250 million. Francisco Granados, the second most important PP official in the Madrid regional government, was among those arrested on charges of money laundering, criminal association, influence peddling, bribery, misappropriation of funds, abuse of power and fraud.

At the beginning of October, the PP was forced to expel Rodrigo Rato, former president of Bankia, Economy Minister and Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, after the High Court found him responsible for credit card abuse.

Rato and 85 other managers of the savings bank Caja Madrid (later part of Bankia and bailed out in 2012 at a cost of €22 billion) funnelled millions for their own use, using “opaque” credit cards. …

The corruption scandals have also hit Catalonia where nationalists have been campaigning for separation on the basis that the region subsidises the poorer parts of Spain. Jordi Pujol, who served as the region’s president for 23 years for the Convergence and Union party (CiU) and revelled in the accolade of “figurehead” of Catalan independence, faces allegations that, for decades, he took a 3 percent slice on dozens of public contracts in the region, enabling him and his family to salt away hundreds of millions of euros in secret bank accounts abroad.

The corruption scandals are another indication that the whole post-Franco bourgeois order is falling apart. They have revealed the outright criminality that lay at the heart of the country’s now-shipwrecked economic boom. Spain’s ruling elite benefited from the boom and accrued massive profits and then imposed harsh austerity measures in the name of “collective sacrifice” after the global economic crisis erupted. Meanwhile Spain’s working population has found itself falling deeper into debt as it struggles to keep up with the cost of living, job losses and public service cuts.

Last week, it was revealed that one-third of Spanish workers are living on the minimum wage of €9,034 ($11,200), with almost all youth under 25 included. The average salary in Spain in 2013 was 1.4 percent lower than a year earlier and the International Monetary Fund is pushing for Spain to lower wages even further.

Under these conditions, the non-stop corruption scandals have had an incendiary impact among millions. Polls find that corruption is the second-highest concern in Spain, after unemployment.

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