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Almost all political parties in Spain guilty of tax fraud, financial crimes

By Andrew V. Pestano

MADRID, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Spain's audit court found that nearly all significant political parties committed tax fraud and other financial crimes in 2012.

Illegal debt cancellation, unlawful donations and fraudulent accounting are some of the crimes listed in a report by acquired by El País.

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Chief Prosecutor of the Court of Auditors Olayo González Soler wrote the report accusing the country's main political parties, the People's Party and the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, of the crimes. He holds party leaders responsible.

The audit court published a dismissive reaction to the article, calling it "premature" and stating the report is part of an unfinished, internal investigation.

The report states that Spain's ruling party, the People's Party, also known as the Popular Party, had a total of €1.3 million undeclared to tax authorities. The party also received an €86,000 donation from a company awarded public contracts, which is illegal.

Another investigation is looking to see if the party has received as much as €8 million in illegal donations throughout the last 20 years.

The report also states the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party loaned €4.4 million in 2012 to its foundations. The loans were un-payable, as the foundations all had negative balances.

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Regional parties like the Democratic Convergence of Catalonia and the Basque Nationalist Party were also named in the audit.

The Democratic Convergence of Catalonia party listed €1.7 million as revenue for services that may not have been delivered.

The Basque Nationalist Party did not include income worth €4.9 million in its accounts.

The audit court has never taken such sweeping action against political parties before, El País reports. The court is often criticized for nepotism and inefficiency that sometimes leads to statute of limitations expiring.

Growing anti-corruption sentiment in the country led to political parties agreeing to stricter financing guidelines and to a judge ordering Princess Cristina of Spain to stand trial for tax fraud charges.

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