Spain's Rajoy, ruling party deny secret payment scheme

Thu Jan 31, 2013 7:37am EST
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By Fiona Ortiz

MADRID (Reuters) - Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Spain's ruling People's Party denied on Thursday that the party made unofficial payments from business donors to the premier and other party leaders after a newspaper published what it said were secret party accounts.

El Pais published images of excerpts of almost two decades of handwritten accounts that it said were maintained by People's Party treasurers. El Pais said the accounts showed 11 years of payments to Rajoy of 25,200 euros ($34,200) a year.

The accounts - which the newspaper said amounted to a parallel unofficial bookkeeping system - show donations from companies, mostly builders, and regular payments of thousands of euros to a number of party leaders.

"The People's Party has no knowledge of the handwritten notes that were published and of their content, and it cannot be recognized, in any case, as this political party's books," the PP said in a statement.

The statement said the party's payments to its leaders and staff were always legal and followed tax rules. The party also denied that there were systematic payments to people other than their official paychecks.

A spokeswoman from Rajoy's office told Reuters the prime minister stood by comments he has made recently that he has not engaged in improper conduct.

High Court Judge Pablo Ruz, who is investigating a four-year-old corruption case involving the PP, has asked prosecutors to look into the allegations of secret payments to party officials and could open a new line of investigation, court sources told Reuters.

The party has ordered an external audit of its accounts.   Continued...

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy arrives at Parliament to attend a government's control session in Madrid January 30, 2013. REUTER/Sergio Perez