The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, released his latest tax returns in a perception play to create the illusion of transparency in this ongoing scandal.
Publishing these tax returns has virtually no probative value in the context of the allegations. Rajoy and other PP party officials are being accused of accepting secret payments and not declaring them to the tax authorities; therefore, within the boundaries of the scandal the payments will not be on the tax returns, and their contents demonstrate that Rajoy did not declare the alleged payments if they exist.
Down the road, if the authorities prove that the payments were made, Rajoy’s only defense will be that he forgot to disclose them. Don’t be surprised if this excuse is sufficient to get him off the hook. The only way to nail Rajoy is to get a co-conspirator, like a party official or one of the firms making cash payments, to flip.
While Rajoy is on thin ice, he still may skate. The question is will his government have the moral authority to push through more budget cuts in the face of this burgeoning scandal. We will have to wait over the coming months to get our answer.