Spain’s PP Sues El Pais Over Reports of Officials’ Cash Payments

Spain’s governing People’s Party began legal action against El Pais newspaper over reports that senior officials received cash payments from a slush fund managed by the former party treasurer.

Former ministers Angel Acebes, Rodrigo Rato, Javier Arenas and Jaime Mayor Oreja have taken similar action and have demanded 500,000 euros ($650,000) in compensation, the party said in a statement today. The PP will also sue the person who gave the newspaper handwritten accounts allegedly documenting the payments when that person is identified, according to the statement.

The publication of the claims “clearly shows the questionable and inexistent professional rigor” of the newspaper, the party said. The information was “inappropriately extracted from documents that were false and very probably manipulated.”

El Pais on Jan. 31 published ledgers that it said were kept by former party finance chief Luis Barcenas and purported to show cash payments to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as well as former ministers such as Acebes and Rato. Barcenas filed an affidavit with a notary in Madrid in December stating he kept details of contributions and payments to officials from 1994 to 2009, El Pais reported last month.

The PP said Barcenas has told prosecutors that the papers were fake. PP officials, including Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, have denied any wrongdoing.

A spokeswoman for the newspaper declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg News.

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