By Alyssa McMurtry
Spain’s ruling party has been fined and 29 business people and politicians have been sentenced to a total of 351 years in prison for involvement in a massive kickback scheme, the high court ruled on Thursday.
In the historic ruling, the governing Popular Party (PP) itself was fined 245,000 euros (US$ 287,000) for benefiting from the scheme. The court ruling also confirmed the existence of a party slush fund since “at least 1989”.
The former PP treasurer Luis Barcenas was sentenced to 33 years in prison and given a 44 million euro ($51.5 million) fine for tax evasion and taking bribes. His wife was also sentenced to 15 years. Other high ranking PP officials such as mayors,
But businessman Francisco Correa was determined to be the leader of the scheme and sentenced to nearly 52 years in prison.
The investigation centered on a corruption ring in which public officials took bribes in exchange for granting and facilitating public contracts. The trial investigated the first part of the ring, from 1999 to 2005 -- years in which Spain witnessed a construction boom that was soon to collapse during the global financial crisis.