PROCEEDINGS for the biggest political scandal to hit Spain since the end of the Franco era have begun.
Forty members of the ruling PP party and a number of prominent businessmen will stand trial in the €450 million ‘Gurtel’ corruption case.
Charged with 12 offences relating to illegal kickbacks for work, the defendants include three former party treasurers.
Ahead of election year, the case couldn’t have come at a worst time for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
Former treasurer Luis Barcenas recently claimed Rajoy was among scores of party leaders who received tens of thousands of euros from a secret slush fund during the government of Jose Maria Aznar.
Allegedly masterminded by businessman Francisco Correa, the accused face charges of bribery, influence peddling, money laundering, tax fraud and document forgery.
The offences relates to a six year period between 1999 and 2005. A further investigation is also under way to examine the following four year period.
The investigation began in 2008 after former PP councillor Jose Penas filed a complaint with the anti-corruption scandal.
Six years later, the first part of the case is finally ready for trial.