Major parties all guilty of financial crime: report

All of Spain's major political parties as well as many smaller groupings committed financial crimes in 2012, a new report by the Court of Accounts alleges.

Major parties all guilty of financial crime: report
Spain's Court of Accounts has been criticized for its tardiness in putting the balance sheets of Spain’s political parties under the microscope. Photo: AFP

The report by the court’s chief prosecutor Olayo González Soler points the finger squarely at Spain’s ruling Popular Party and the country’s main opposition party, the Socialists, or PSOE.

However, a swathe of smaller and regional parties were also guilty of crimes including illegal donations, strange payments to unknown foundations and illegal debt cancellation, according to the hard-hitting report seen by Spanish daily El País alleges.

In the report, Spain’s ruling Popular Party comes under fire for allegedly holding €1.3 million ($1.5 million) in undeclared funds and for accepting an €86,000 donation from a company that was the beneficiary of public contracts, among other crimes.

Meanwhile, the opposition Socialists (PSOE) copped flak for loaning €4.4 million to two foundations, money it knew would never be repaid.

Also singled out were regional entities including the Basque Nationalist Party, the BNP — for failing to include profits of €4.9 million from a property deal in its 2012 accounts — and the Democratic Convergence of Catalonia party, part of that region’s ruling coalition, which failed to properly document €1.7 million in revenues.  

In his report for 2012, González Soler said the leaders of political parties were responsible for all such illegal activity but also praised recent moves to tighten up on the rules for party financing.

Under proposed changes, corporate donations would be made illegal while private donations would be capped at €50,000. Banks would be also be prohibited from writing off the bad debts of banks.

The moves are aimed at appeasing Spanish voters who are angry about perceived high levels of political corruption in the country and come in the wake of the introduction of a suite of new transparency laws.

SEE ALSO: Ten shocking corruption cases hurting Spain

They also come in an election year when the fate of the country’s two largest parties could be determined by their ability to act against this corruption. Failure to do so, or appear to do so, could open the electoral gates to anti-austerity newcomer Podemos, which presents itself as a clean alternative to a rusting regime.  

The Court of Accounts itself has been criticized for its tardiness in putting the balance sheets of Spain’s political parties under the microscope. These delays have seen violations go unpunished with the statute of limitations on such crimes expiring, according to El País.    

The court has also failed to take tough action in the wake of such violations, the centre-left newspaper said.

Reports for 2013 and 2014 remain to be filed.

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