Spain: 32 years prison sentence for politician for kickbacks-for-contracts scheme that operated during Spain’s decade-long construction boom

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The Financial Times  report that the Spanish court has handed a series of fines and prison sentences to politicians and businesspeople connected to Spain’s ruling centre-right party, as part of a long-running trial centred on a kickbacks-for-contracts scheme that operated during Spain’s decade-long construction boom.

Spain’s national criminal court on Thursday sentenced businessman Francisco Correa to nearly 52 years in jail, saying he was part of an “authentic and effective system of institutional corruption” where money was given to politicians in exchange for business contracts.

Luis Bárcenas, former treasurer of the ruling Popular Party (PP), was jailed for 33 years and fined more than €44m for evading taxes and pocketing more than €1m in commissions to help win public contracts for contacts of Mr Correa. In a blow to Mariano Rajoy, Spanish prime minister, the court also fined the PP €245,000 because it benefited from the illegal scheme, with the court ruling calling it a “profit-seeking participant”.

The Guardian reports that  The socialist PSOE party called an emergency meeting of its executive committee for Friday morning, raising the prospect that it could move to hold a no-confidence vote in Rajoy.

The anti-austerity Podemos party renewed its calls for a motion of no-confidence. “Democracy can’t tolerate criminals in charge of government,” its leader, Pablo Iglesias, wrote on Twitter.

Albert Rivera, the leader of the centre-right Ciudadanos party, which is riding high in the polls and attracting disillusioned PP voters, said the court’s verdict “marks a before and an after in this legislature”.

He said it put Spain in a delicate position as it faced the challenge of Catalan separatism, and his party would take the necessary steps to make sure “our democracy isn’t damaged”.

When news of the scandal first emerged nine years ago, Rajoy dismissed it as “a plot against the PP”. He initially offered Bárcenas his support in a series of texts, telling his friend: “Luis, we are doing what we can” and “Luis, be strong”.

In the past few years, the PP has been increasingly mired in corruption scandals. In April the PP president of Madrid’s regional government resigned after accusations that she had faked her master’s degree and after video footage emerged of her apparently stealing face cream.

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