Spanish daily El Pais has published excerpts of alleged secret, handwritten accounts maintained by Rajoy’s party treasurers detailing cash payments to top officials. These notes show that the prime minister allegedly was paid €250k over eleven years.
The payments were cash donations to the party, mostly from construction firms, that were funneled to party leaders. Accepting anonymous, cash donations was not illegal in Spain during the time the ledgers cover, but these payments needed to be declared to the tax agency by the party and by those who received the money as income.
The PP is denying the allegations through its General Party Secretary. Additionally, PM Rajoy has threatened legal action against anyone who repeats them:
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s party (PP) has today claimed that documents allegedly showing secret payments to Rajoy and other senior party leaders are not valid and say they will take legal action against anyone who repeats the allegations. (Guardian)
These allegations will be very difficult to prove in court, and this is why a secret set of books and a cash in hand system is used by white collar miscreants. Let’s break down the PP’s defensive plan for a better understanding of the scheme.
The PP has denied the validity of the second set of books claiming
The People’s Party only has one set of accounts and it is clean, transparent and submitted to the official accounting authority. (Cospadal via Reuters)
The reason to have another set of handwritten books is to be able to make this denial if and when the time comes. We know the party maintains only one “official” set, but that does not preclude the existence of another secret set. As long as the secret set wasn’t found in party offices, officials will claim that they are not legitimate.
In this case, they are using the term “valid,” which is intriguing. The proper way to describe these document would be either”forgeries.” If the handwriting matches a party official, then neither term would be accurate. By saying the ledgers are not valid, it does not matter who wrote the entries.*
Cash is used because it is impossible to trace once it leaves the room. While the former party treasurer was dumb enough to hold Swiss bank accounts, a prosecutor still cannot prove that the cash he accepted and these accounts are related. Rajoy is the head honcho and is very aware that he will be under enhanced scrutiny while he is in power. There is very little chance that we will discover that he holds secret bank accounts.
The bottom line is that it will take additional evidence in the form of corroboration by either a conspirator who made ledger entries or cash payment to the officials. Getting one of these conspirators to flip is very unlikely. If they keep their mouths shut, they should be able to walk away with fines and no jail time.
Rajoy’s government should survive this scandal, but nothing would change if it fell. The Socialists are probably just as corrupt and also wedded to the ideas of bank bailouts and austerity on the backs of the Spaniards who actually declare their income and pay taxes.
*Some additional explanation is warranted here.
An investigator would try to establish who wrote the entries by obtaining handwriting samples from suspects and having them evaluated by an expert. If the samples could not be matched to a person within the PP machine, officials could claim that the documents were forgeries created by their enemies or perhaps a lone crank.
On the other hand, if the entries are in the handwriting of a party official, then the officials could not claim forgery. A party official has the authority to keep party accounts, but it could be claimed that these accounts are not “valid,” that is, not recognized by the party as official.
This distinction is important. For example, let’s say the New York Times published a signed confession from you where you admit that you worked with Lee Harvey Oswald to assassinate JFK. Your first defense would be, “I never signed that confession. It’s a forgery.”
The fact that the PP is drawing the validity of the documents and not who created them into question is telling, because they are claiming persecution by their political enemies as a motive for these documents becoming public.
The party knows that it cannot claim that the documents are forgeries, because they are in the hand of a party official(s). Hence, they are now denying the validity of the documents.