Ángel Acebes, general secretary of the PP between October 2003 and June 2008, has turned his statement as a witness in the trial for box b on Monday into a closed defense of his work in the party against the accusations launched by the former treasurer Luis Bárcenas. Acebes, who was also Minister of Justice and Interior in the governments of José María Aznar, has denied that there was opaque accounting in his party and that he received 107,100 euros in bonuses from it over the years, as reflected in the Bárcenas accounting notes.
“I flatly deny it,” said the former popular leader, who has insisted over and over again that from his post as secretary general he limited himself to exercising “functions of political coordination and direction,” and that he never intervened in the economic area. About the so-called Bárcenas papers has insisted that “they are not true, they are flatly false and do not correspond with reality or with anything that I know of”, despite the fact that the National Court and, later, the Supreme Court considered them, in their judgments of the Gürtel case, “valid and sufficient” proof of the existence of the box b.
In his statement as a defendant in the trial session on March 10, Bárcenas affirmed that the members of the successive leadership of the formation until 2008, including Acebes, were aware of these opaque finances, nurtured mainly with irregular donations from businessmen. He also pointed to the former Minister of the Interior as the alleged recipient of funds from box b, although he admitted that Acebes was one of the few high officials of the party to whom he never physically delivered the envelope with money because of this, according to the Bárcenas story, the then treasurer, Álvaro Lapuerta, now deceased, was always in charge. The former treasurer added that, every time the general secretary changed, the person who acceded to the position was promptly informed by Lapuerta of what was being done with that black money.
This Monday, Acebes – who declared as a defendant in the case in October 2014 before the judge of the National Court Pablo Ruz, who later filed the case against him due to lack of sufficient evidence – has insisted that all the remuneration he received from the party were “via transfer [bancaria], with the corresponding deductions [fiscales]”. And he has insisted that, for him, the so-called Bárcenas papers they did not exist until EL PAÍS published them in 2013. “I know of the existence of money b in the PP and I have not received any amount outside of my declared salaries,” he insisted on several occasions throughout his statement.
Asked how he explained then that his name appeared repeatedly in those annotations and if there was an alleged animosity from a former treasurer towards him, the former secretary general has limited himself to saying: “I don’t know. I can’t find any explanation ”. Acebes has also denied that he had instructed Lapuerta and Bárcenas for people close to the party to acquire, in 2004, shares of Digital Freedom with funds from box b of PP. “It is impossible. I was unaware and do not know the existence of a box b in the Popular Party, ”he said again.
Before Acebes, five other witnesses have declared, among them Luis Fraga, former senator of the PP and nephew of Manuel Fraga, founder of the party. Luis Fraga, who has repeatedly praised Bárcenas, whom he has not hesitated to describe as a “friend” with whom he shared climbing and paragliding activities, has confirmed the veracity of the two notes of the so-called Bárcenas papers in which it is collected that they gave him 3,000 and 6,000 euros in July 2004 and February 2008. As he explained, he received those amounts to finance his electoral campaigns in those years as a candidate for the Senate for the province of Guadalajara. He has also indicated that he did not sign any receipt for those amounts or declare them to the treasury.
Fraga has stressed that he gave credibility to this accounting due to the “methodical” nature of the former treasurer and his obsession to write down everything, even the books he read and the days it took to do so. “Mr. Bárcenas deserves all the credibility,” he added. Fraga has also admitted that he had accounts in Switzerland and that he knew of the existence of those that Bárcenas had, whom he described as “a genius on the stock market.” Asked by the PP lawyer if he also knew that in those accounts the former treasurer came to accumulate up to 47 million euros, the former senator has limited himself to saying: “In terms of money, nothing surprises me and nothing impresses me.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.