A Spanish newspaper said yesterday (9 July) it had handed over handwritten documents to the High Court which it said were ledger entries showing payments from an illicit slush fund run by the PP to party leaders, including Rajoy.
El Mundo newspaper splashed color photocopies of the ledger entries on the front page of Tuesday´s paper, the latest installment in a long-running corruption scandal which has damaged the government´s credibility as it seeks to bring a sickly economy back to health.
"It obviously doesn´t help the Spanish brand," Foreign Affairs Minister José Manuel Garcia-Margallo said on Tuesday when asked about the latest twist in the scandal.
Spain´s ruling PP party and the government repeated denials that party members had ever received illegal cash.
But the scandal has refused to go away since El País newspaper published photocopied excerpts of the same ledger in January. It has angered Spaniards suffering a long-running recession, high unemployment and public spending cuts.
El Mundo did not say how it had got its hands on the documents, but the editor, Pedro Ramirez, published on Sunday an interview with the alleged author of the ledger entries and operator of the slush fund – former PP treasurer Luis Bárcenas, currently in custody as the High Court continues a pre-trial investigation into corruption charges against him.
The newspaper said payments amounting to tens of thousands of euros were delivered to party leaders, in Rajoy´s case sometimes concealed in a box of cigars.
The affair has not affected the premium investors demand to hold Spanish debt rather than the German benchmark, a measure of perceived political risk. But top government officials acknowledge that the corruption allegations are damaging the country´s image abroad.