Spain PM admits mishandling funding scandal

Mariano Rajoy says he was wrong to trust disgraced People's Party treasurer, but denied he received illegal payments.

    Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has acknowledged he made a mistake in his handling of a major corruption scandal in the ruling centre-right People's Party (PP).

    Rajoy made the surprise confession for the first time during a special appearance before Parliament on Thursday.

    The prime minister admitted errors were made since the scandal came out in January that former PP treasurer Luis Barcenas hid up to 48 million euros ($63.5m) in Swiss bank accounts.

    Barcenas told a judge he collected millions in cash donations from construction magnates and distributed them to senior PP figures including Rajoy, something the prime minister denied. 

    Confession

    The Prime Minister said his error had been to trust Barcenas, but denied the ex-treasurer's allegations that the party ran a slush fund.

    "I can sum it up in two words. I was wrong. I'm sorry but that is how it was. I was wrong in trusting someone we now know didn't deserve it," he said.

    Barcenas, who left his post in 2009 but continued receiving financial support from the party, is in jail pending trial on charges of bribery, tax evasion and other crimes.

    Rajoy has been criticised for maintaining contact with Barcenas via text messages as recently as January.

    The prime minister acknowledged the scandal has damaged his, and his party's credibility as well as Spain's image abroad at a time when the country was already battling painfully high unemployment, a shrinking economy and a massive budget gap.

    .

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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