5 October 2016
Thirty-seven people will on trial for massive corruption on Tuesday (4 October 2016) in Spain’s National Court just outside Madrid. Suspects include prominent members of the ruling People’s Party.
Businessman Francisco Correa engineered a scheme which enabled corrupt businessmen to get contracts in exchange for bribes. The case has been given the code name “Gurtel”. His surname Correa in Spanish means belt in English and Gurtel in German language. Online daily eldiario.es published a confession from Correa, last year. He was remanded in custody from 2009 to 2012. He was close to former conservative prime minister Jose Maria Aznar.
First victim in this case was Ana Mato, then health minister. She resigned in 2014. She does not face any criminal charges. Her ex-husband Jesus Sepulveda was mayor of Pozuelo de Alarcon, a town near Madrid, from 2003 to 2009. He is on trial for embezzlement of public funds and influence peddling.  Ms Ana Mato is accused of benefitting from her ex-husbands offences.
Spain’s superstar judge Baltasar Garzon ordered the first detentions in this case in 2009. In 2012 judge Baltasar Garzon was suspended from judiciary for 11 years for ordering illegal recording of suspects talking to their lawyers in the Gurtel case.
Former economy minister and former IMF chief Rodrigo Rato will face trial for allegedly overseeing a “corrupt system” that helped him and other executives misuse millions when he was a Spanish banking boss.
Luis Bárcenas was the treasurer of People’s Party. The controversy around Luis Bárcenas came up in January 2013, when investigations into the Gürtel case revealed that he had a Swiss bank account with €22 million. Luis Bárcenas operated a slush fund consisting of bribes and illegal donations received from businessmen. Monthly honorarium was paid to high ranking party officials and ministers from this slush fund. Under Spanish law senior politicians are prohibited from receiving any income from sources other than the state emoluments for their respective duties. The law also severely restricts political party funding and Political campaign donations.
On 27 June 2013, Bárcenas was sent to prison pending trial. He was released on bail in January 2015 and awaits trial now along with other Gurtel suspects.