Re­turn­ing to the le­gal path

Costa Almería News - - Comment -

By Dave Jones IT’S A good day to bury news, UK gov­ern­ment spe­cial ad­viser Jo Moore had told col­leagues on Septem­ber 11, 2001 – in an email which was sub­se­quently leaked to the press and un­der­stand­ably caused some con­ster­na­tion.

And, in Spain at the moment, it is an ex­cel­lent time for the na­tional Par­tido Pop­u­lar (PP) gov­ern­ment to keep its pec­ca­dil­los off the front pages.

A cynic might say that they de­lib­er­ately en­sured that the Cata­lan ques­tion de­vel­oped into a full-scale cri­sis to avoid hav­ing to an­swer ques­tions over their own il­le­gal­i­ties – but that would be one for the con­spir­acy the­o­rists and not al­legedly ‘sen­si­ble’ jour­nal­ism.

Af­ter the con­tro­ver­sial ref­er­en­dum in Cataluña on Oc­to­ber 1 and the sus­pended dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence, the mantra of the PP gov­ern­ment was that the Cata­lan gov­ern­ment of Car­les Puigde­mont had to re­turn to the le­gal path (‘tienen que volver a la le­gal­i­dad’). The ne­ces­sity of ‘back to le­gal­ity’ was re­peated time and again by PM Mariano Ra­joy and his min­is­ters when­ever some­one stuck a mi­cro­phone un­der their noses. And, not one of them blushed or showed any sign of em­bar­rass­ment when they said it.

And why should they, you may ask? Well, it prob­a­bly es­caped a lot of peo­ple’s at­ten­tion last week that an anti-cor­rup­tion pros­e­cu­tor ef­fec­tively ac­cused the na­tional PP of be­ing a cor­rupt or­gan­i­sa­tion. Con­cep­ción Sabadell was ex­plain­ing the al­leged institutional be­hav­iour of the PP dur­ing her sum­ming up in court of the Gür­tel case. The de­fen­dants are cur­rently be­ing tried in the first phase of the cor­rup­tion scan­dal which cov­ers the pe­riod from 1999 to 2005. The ju­di­ciary have had to di­vide the case into dif­fer­ent parts due to its com­plex­ity – and the in­creas­ing in­flu­ence of the cor­rup­tion net­work around Spain as time went on.

Gür­tel is the ju­di­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion which un­cov­ered that for­mer PP na­tional party trea­surer Luis Bárce­nas (pic­tured) had man­aged to stash an es­ti­mated €47 mil­lion in tax havens around the world, cash which Sr Bárce­nas claims came from wise in­vest­ments and sales of art works, etc. It is the cor­rup­tion net­work which was run by Fran­cisco Cor­rea who, ac­cord­ing to the state pros­e­cu­tion ser­vice, would pay large amounts of money into the PP’s slush fund in or­der to win lu­cra­tive pub­lic con­tracts.

Pros­e­cu­tor Con­cep­ción Sabadell told the court that notes made by Sr Bárce­nas made ref­er­ence to the PP’s par­al­lel ac­count­ing sys­tem, the so-called ‘B’ ac­counts – the un­of­fi­cial ac­counts which out­lined un­der­the-counter pay­ments to the party from busi­ness­men.

She stated: “The Bárce­nas papers have ‘fully’ and ‘over­whelm­ingly’ proven the ex­is­tence of the ‘B’ ac­counts (par­al­lel ac­counts).”

It should be men­tioned at this stage that the PP have al­ways de­nied the ex­is­tence of any par­al­lel ac­counts – or that a slush fund ex­isted which was used to fun­nel brown-en­ve­lope pay­ments to the party’s top brass. They dis­pute the in­for­ma­tion which ap­pears in the note­books of Sr Bárce­nas, which sets out pay­ments to a se­ries of prom­i­nent party mem­bers.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to the pros­e­cu­tor, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion had proven that money paid into the B ac­count came from busi­ness­men in or­der to win lu­cra­tive pub­lic con­tracts.

“These were not char­i­ta­ble do­na­tions,” she told the court.

“They were look­ing to make prof­its.”

At the same time she noted that those who had not ben­e­fit­ted from the il­le­gal pay­ments were the Span­ish peo­ple and the State.

Tak­ing all this into ac­count, I would like to ask – have the PP re­turned to the le­gal path? Have they now got rid of the par­al­lel ac­count­ing sys­tem which was set up to keep a check on the ‘do­na­tions’ which came in from ex­pec­tant busi­ness­men?

I would also like to ru­mi­nate on how not one mem­ber of the na­tional PP had the de­cency to blush while stat­ing that the Cata­lans had to start do­ing things in a le­gal fash­ion on the very day that the state pros­e­cu­tion ser­vice out­lined how their party had been ben­e­fit­ting from il­le­gal do­na­tions/bribes. Still, I guess that’s pol­i­tics. Mo­ral­ity is nei­ther here nor there.

For­tu­nately for gov­ern­ments there are al­ways good days for bury­ing bad news. Dave Jones worked as a reporter and news ed­i­tor in the UK press for seven years be­fore com­ing to Spain. He started out at the Wal­sall Ad­ver­tiser and fin­ished up at the Evening Sen­tinel in Stoke. He has worked as a jour­nal­ist in Spain for 11 years and is cur­rently ed­i­tor of the Costa Blanca News, south edi­tion.

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