The Bárcenas Affair is a corruption scandal in Spain that affects the People’s Party (PP), one of the country´s main political parties. Following revelations that Luis Bárcenas, who served as party treasurer and senator, held 48 million euros in Swiss bank accounts, extracts of handwritten accounts, the so-called “Bárcenas papers” (los papeles de Bárcenas) were published in the press. Those accounts allegedly indicate that the PP kept, for many years, a parallel bookkeeping system to record undeclared and illegal cash donations, and used them to pay bonuses to senior members of the party as well as for daily party expenses.
The documents cover the period from 1990 to 2009, and suggest that regular cash payments had been made from a slush fund. Those include payments of 25,000 euros ($34,000) a year, for eleven years, to the current Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, including, according to El Mundo, during three of the years that he served as minister in José María Aznar’s government.
Other leading party figures allegedly involved in the scandal include former ministers Rodrigo Rato, (also a former director general of the IMF, and now serving time for a separate corruption case), Ángel Acebes, Federico Trillo, and former secretaries-general, who also served as ministers, Francisco Álvarez-Cascos, who allegedly received 421,693 euros between 1990 and 2004, and Javier Arenas, who allegedly received 234,320 euros, the party’s current secretary general and Minister of Defence, María Dolores de Cospedal, the most senior party member summoned to date to appear before the investigating judge. and the President of the Senate, Pío García-Escudero
On 1 August 2013, after “weeks of holding out against demands that he give some sort of explanation for the corruption and illegal funding scandal that has engulfed” his party, Rajoy was finally forced to address Spain’s parliament by the threat of a motion of censure. While admitting to having handled the scandal badly, he denied taking illegal funds.
On 22 November 2013, the investigating judge released a writ where he claimed that circumstantial evidence existed that the PP had maintained a parallel accounting system to the official one it presented to the Audit Court.
The trial for the related Gürtel case began in 2016. The verdicts in the first part of the Gürtel case, reached in 2018, had implications for the “Caja B” case, which was was scheduled for trial later that year.
Politicians or party employees who have admitted to receiving payments
- Santiago Abascal, PP city councillor (€12,000)
- Pío García-Escudero, current president of the Senate of Spain (€30,000)
- Jaume Matas (former President of the Balearic Islands and former minister in the Aznar government; as of 2014, serving jail time for a separate corruption case)
- Jaime Ignacio del Burgo
- Calixto Ayesa
- Cristóbal Páez, a former PP finance manager
- Ángel Acebes, former minister.