WHEN it comes to fraud nearly every political party in Spain was in on the act, according to the country’s Audit Court.
In a report the watchdog’s chief lawyer, Olayo Gonzalez Soler, said that political parties from local to national level committed tax fraud and other financial crimes in their 2012 accounts.
While singling out the conservative Partido Popular (PP) and the socialists (PSOE) as the main culprits, he also named the Convergencia Democratica de Catalunya (CDC) and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) among a long list of parties with dubious financial accounts.
El Pais reports that possible crimes included illegal debt cancellation, dubious loans to obscure foundations as well as unlawful donations and unreliable declarations of income and spending.
For many the report comes as a surprise, not because of what it has reported, but for the strength of its condemnation.
The Audit Court has in the past been slow to investigate parties’ finances and has faced accusations of nepotism and inefficiency.
It has not in the past issued such a hard-hitting statement about any political party. The slowness of its investigations have also meant that when it has uncovered wrong-doing the statute of limitations had passed so no action could be taken.
It even managed to miss some of the biggest financial scandals engulfing political parties in Spain, including the Barcenas case which involved the PP using a system of parallel accounts for two decades.
Some of the cases uncovered by the court from the 2012 financial year include €1.7 million that the CDC listed as revenue from services given to the CiU and various foundations with inadequate documentation.
The ruling PP accepted an €86,000 donation from a company that was awarded public contracts, and had , according to eight witnesses, €1.3 million in bank accounts not declared for tax purposes.
The PSOE is said to have loaned €4.4 million to its Pablo Iglesias and Ideas para el Progreso foundations, with little prospect of the money being repaid. The manager of the PSOE and the Ideas foundation were also the same man, a practice criticised by the court.
Also under fire was the PNV which failed to show €4.9 million of income in its 2012 accounts. It also had 357 checking accounts savings funds and other accounts holding a total €3.1 million that did not appear in its accounts.