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Spain calls in experts as corruption crisis grows

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Spain calls in experts as corruption crisis grows
A Madrid protest calling for an end to high levels of corruption in Spain. File photo: Dominque Faget/AFP
10:21 CEST+02:00
Spanish politicians and legal experts are set to thrash out ways to fight corruption in Parliament on Wednesday, just days after 15 new people were called in for questioning over their involvement in a massive fraud case in the country's south.

Government plans to deal with the recurring problem of corruption at all levels of Spanish politics will be examined by a panel of experts in subjects such as political science and constitutional law.

The first to speak, according to Spanish daily EL País, will be Beinigno Pendas, head of political science at San Pablo's CEU University, whose report over a year ago served as the basis for Spain's new Transparency Law which is already partly in effect.

The law includes reform of the financing methods used by political parties and is aimed at preventing a repetition of the ongoing high-profile 'Bárcenas papers' case.

Bárcenas, the former treasurer of the governing Popular Party, is currently in jail and has accused senior members of the government of complicity in receiving illegal cash payments via a parallel bookkeeping system and slush fund.

SEE ALSO: The Local's in-depth profile of Luis Bárcenas

The latest parliamentary hearing will take place against the background of what is potentially Spain's biggest corruption scandal.

A judge investigating the possible misuse of €140 million ($193 million) of public funds in the southern region of Andalusia named fifteen new official suspects on Monday, bringing the total to 166.

The investigation is widely known as the "Ere case" after the name of the labour-force adjustment fund, designed to cover mass lay-offs, that was set up by the Socialist Party-led regional government between 2000 and 2010.

The latest raft of suspects includes a former Popular Party provincial deputy and a senior member of a trade union.

Spain's international reputation has been rocked by corruption scandals and what is perceived as a failure to deal with an endemic problem.

More than 1,700 corruption cases are currently under investigation, with over 500 named suspects, but only 20 people are in prison,  according to data complied by Spanish news agency Europa Press.

Spain dropped 10 places from 30th to 40th in the annual Transparency International global Corruption Perception ranking in 2013. Only Syria suffered a worse result. 

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