Now A Vast Political Espionage Scandal To Top Off The Sordid Corruption Scandal In Spain

Wolf Richter's picture

Wolf Richter

Spain just can’t catch a break—a horrid economy with dizzying unemployment, collapsing banks, a prime minister and ruling party tarred by corruption.... Now a political espionage scandal blew up, scattering debris and money laundering allegations far and wide.

Unemployment in Spain was 26% in December, youth unemployment 55%. GDP last quarter dropped for the fifth month in a row (-0.7%), the steepest decline since the financial crisis. Consumer spending plunged 10% in December from prior year—following a hike in the value-added tax. And the budget deficit target of 6.3% (not counting the billions plowed into bailing out the banks) is skidding out of reach.

This leitmotif is accompanied by an elegantly escalating corruption scandal that broke in early February. A classic cash-for-contracts arrangement, where senior politicians received secret payments from business folks who in return were awarded juicy government contracts.

It was documented in handwritten ledgers, involved a €22 million slush fund in Switzerland, and was allegedly run by Luis Bárcenas, the ex-treasurer of the conservative People’s Party (PP), the party of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose name appears repeatedly and very inconveniently on the ledgers as recipient [which put him and Chancellor Merkel on the corruption hot seat in Berlin.... The Confidence Crisis In Spain Sends Out Shock Waves].

Add a political espionage scandal. The case blew up in a peculiar manner. According to sources—everything in this case is “according to sources”—Método 3, a detective agency, went out of business not long ago. One of its laid-off employees was an ex-cop, in charge of the data department. When Método 3 couldn’t pay him what it owed him, he appropriated the computers, video and audio recordings, and a bunch of sensitive files. And they’ve shown up at the technical division of the police in Barcelona.

Now “sources” are talking about what’s in this treasure-trove. Apparently Método 3 had been commissioned by a long list of clients to spy on Catalan party leaders, politicians of national parties, judges, prosecutors, executives, and other prominent figures, sources told La Vanguardia. One of the recordings was of a lunch meeting at a restaurant in Barcelona in July 2010 between Alicia Sánchez-Camacho, President of the PP in Catalonia, and a woman named María Victoria Álvarez.

Álvarez was desperate and scared. She told Sánchez-Camacho that she’d gone on a road trip to Andorra with her then boyfriend, Pujol Ferrusola. The trunk was loaded with packets of 500-euro notes, which he deposited in a bank account there.

She outlined how Pujol Ferrusola—son of powerbroker Jordi Pujol, leader of the Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC) from 1974 to 2003 and President of Catalonia from 1980 to 2003—was doing his family’s money laundering. She wanted to report him but feared for her life. So she asked Sánchez-Camacho for help.

The Pujol-Ferrusola family has been fingered in a police report that seeped to the surface in 2012. While Jordi Pujol was in power, companies associated with his sons were awarded lucrative contracts allegedly through false bidding. These cases had been investigated at the time, but nothing happened.... Until the recording of a conversation about a trunk full of euros popped up.

On Thursday, Álvarez finally testified before the High Court about what she’d witnessed.

Also on Thursday, Sánchez-Camacho pressed charges with the police and filed a complaint in court against Método 3. She’d found out by reading the papers that her lunch conversation had been recorded—and that the top official of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), José Zaragoza, at the time party secretary, had allegedly commissioned Método 3 to do the dirty work.

Interior Minister Jorge Fernández announced an “exhaustive” investigation. “We have a lot of information,” he said ominously. Zaragoza and others accused of anything whatsoever have denied everything.

Sources have told La Vanguardia that the materials are so massive that the police have formed a special team, supported by police units from Madrid, to investigate them. The lunch episode uncovered a web of “unpredictable scope.” The investigation is still in an early stage, sources said, but the client list of Método 3 is long and “delicate,” and includes officials of various political parties and institutions, and the number of people tangled up in it is vast. “This is about top politicians,” said the sources.

These revelations are driving the political elite ever deeper into a malodorous morass just when that same elite is forcefully tightening the belts of the people. Workers have taken pay cuts, social benefits have been trimmed, families have lost their homes, the VAT, which hits everyone, has been jacked up, all to squeeze the maximum from those who still have any juice left. Yet, Spain’s legal system wasn’t designed to root out corruption; and Rajoy, among others, may be thinking that this too shall pass.

Corruption of spectacular proportions is dogging another Eurozone country waiting for a bailout: buried deep inside a report on Russia’s booming underground economy and illicit oil money is a gem: the flows and amounts of Russian “black money” into and out of Cyprus. They’re huge. Read.... Cyprus, ‘A Money Laundering Machine For Russian Criminals’.

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Notarocketscientist's picture

Only difference in the us is that bribery is legal if done via lobbyists or by doling out high paying jobs

Notarocketscientist's picture

Only difference in the us is that bribery is legal if done via lobbyists or by doling out high paying jobs

Notarocketscientist's picture

Only difference in the us is that bribery is legal if done via lobbyists or by doling out high paying jobs

trendybull459's picture

The international Elithies should come to idea,before Revolution strikes(to electronic government could be elctronic Revolution),that they have in hurry to drop VIT stealing tax and drop any tax to 21%-back to King Solomon times,smartest of all Earth people

we got new Forum in russia and in russian,but you can talk english(as most russians speaking it),to leave comments in translite or russian,what is good is that Russia absolutly free country if it apply to critics of their enemies,it takes some few minutes to be free from Big Brother watching being registred in

americanspirit's picture

No "next Spanish election". Martial law and military take-over. Watch for it.

vote_libertarian_party's picture

So when is the next Spanish election?  Can we expect the 3rd tier parties (Nationalists, Communists?) to be swept into power?

Kiwi Pete's picture

How is Rajoy not in jail. Is bribing polititians not illegal in Spain?

pashley1411's picture

"These revelations are driving the political elite ever deeper into a malodorous morass just when that same elite is forcefully tightening the belts of the people. Workers have taken pay cuts, social benefits have been trimmed, families have lost their homes, the VAT, which hits everyone, has been jacked up, all to squeeze the maximum from those who still have any juice left. Yet, Spain’s legal system wasn’t designed to root out corruption; and Rajoy, among others, may be thinking that this too shall pass."

Nobody gives a fck; the sun rises in the east, sheep will get sheared, same same.    Nothing will change between the oligarchs until a significant slice of the elite starts getting cut out of the pie.

TrulyStupid's picture

In the same vein:  Newly elected Elizabeth Warren asking some awkward questions of the bank regulators:

overmedicatedundersexed's picture

bill and hillary, bushes, all seemed to gain great economic benefit while living at 1600 Pennsylvania ave..but corruption never..look up pacific arch & engineers owned by lyndon and lady bird johnson in the vietnam war era.

shocked just shocked,

Peter Pan's picture

Is anyone under any illusions that similar things have not happened or are happening in virtually every western democracy be it Spain, Greece or even the USA?

What countries need, sad as it is to admit, are military dictatorships with a two year mandate and a string of military tribunals where just the facts are presented and justice is dispensed around the back of the courthouse.


TNTARG's picture

Right diagnostic, wrong solution. Military dictatorships never work for the people. I believe what's needed is JUSTICE. JUSTICE. However, "all is well", the System is corrupted to the bond, as we read right here in ZH. Until one day, perhaps, heads will roll. We should start working on guillotines.


Peter Pan's picture

If Christians were truly thrown into the colosseum with wild animals then it is time for Spanish politcians to be thrown into the ring with a bunch of bulls and no capes.

ImReady's picture

Does Metodo 3 have a branch on the US? I think we are badly in need of its services...

cpzimmon's picture

There's nothing like reading a ZH article on a Saturday night after a week of being bombared by the noise of the MSM. No it doesen't calm the mind, but I sure as hell will pace back and forth on the foyer until this xanax kicks in. 

Silver Garbage Man's picture

Weed is far superior to any pharmacy magic pill.

sagdogalone's picture

Toss in a couple of Vicodin and a couple vodkas, and now you're getting somewhere.

TruthInSunshine's picture

The Main & Quite Lame Ass Stream Media, whether cBS or Faux News, works 100x better than xanax.

StychoKiller's picture

Hmm, that's only if you haven't taken the "red pill".

JOYFUL's picture

Constitutions are ephemeral, and subject to the whims of autocrats(as Merikans are in the process of discovering); there will be no alleviation of the Spanish crucible until there is a comng to terms with the unique conditions under which Iberia has developed.

Part European(Teutonic Visigoth\Vandal\Suevi\Romanized Celt-Iberic), part Asio-African(Berber-Basque/Sephardic Hebraic\Islamized Arab\Phoenician-Carthagenian)the penninsula has stored up the unresolved frictions(and fictions) of millenia of mixing of peoples and cultures.

Their only choice now is to lead the way forward in finding a binding resolution to this mad jostling of impulses which is the Spanish soul, or seeking false refuge within the dead pool of the diminished civilization that the western Europoid peoples have been reduced to.

Gaddafi the mad Berber and anarcho-syndicalist showed the way with his gold dinar and advanced social programs - only a man\woman of his legacy and convoluted motives is fit to lead the Hispanic people back to their future!

What we believe to be the motives of our conduct are usually but the pretexts for it - Unamuno


AnAnonymous's picture

Basques are Asio-african?

Another 'american' piece of news brought to you courtesy of 'americans'.

JOYFUL's picture

Get a grip slant eyes! Do you really expect us to educate as well as entertain you, during your interminable exile as low level public security functionary at that Gobi Desert slave camp you call home?

The Basque language has no connection to the Indo-European language group shared by the rest of what is commonly called Europe(save for the Finns!) They do, however share DNA haplogroup markings and some linguistic affinities with the Berber people of NORTH AFRICA, leading to informed speculation of their common origins, along with the Guanche of the Canary Islands in an Atlantic phonetic family previously only vaguely suspected.

Just like our Tocharian brethern who hung out in the very desert space where you are now squatting, we big-nosed white-boned demons come in all shapes n sizes, and from all directions of the compass, with the long term goal of enveloping and eviscerating you of your neo-imperial pretensions,,,

Peter Pan's picture

At the rate we are going even Robert Mugabe might turn out to be a better leader than the scum that Europe is stuck with at the moment.

Sukumvir's picture

It's all about replacing Juancarlismo like Franquismo was once the Heads of State approach the end of the road.

Franco's political class was sent home while historic dissenters within Franco's regime and last minute traitors to Franco ended-up getting the top jobs. A few historic left-wingers who privately gave-up on restoring a Republican system of State were co-opted into the game.

This time around Juan Carlos political class will be purged out of the system. They are largely expendable... so many could be given real prison terms (not subject to the usual royal pardon) to keep the population at large happy while more "austerity" is forced on the people.

Something else ... just as perverse and imperfect as the 78 Constitution will end up becoming or susbtituting the 78 Magna Carta. Felipe, JC's son, might be out of the picture as the Monarchy's love for money comes increasingly under the Spotlight...

It's all managed now like it was before!

Only a new Constitutional re-drafting process set under the strict guidelines drawn by longtime dissenter of both Franco and Juan Carlos, Antonio Garcia-Trevijano could bring some credibility to any future plans for real political change.

Jim in MN's picture

Just like we would need a new, anti-corruption, and more or less sane political party for the American republic to survive.

I give Spain much better odds.

Paracelsus's picture

Take away anything but a mans' freedom,dignity and hope for a better future. Nigel farage is right,they couldn't have screwed this up more if they planned it on purpose....

I had hoped to live my life without seeing a major European conflict but I think 2014 or 2015 is it.

(Some would call it deleveraging,but I think since 2008 we have been in a slow motion bank run).

Setarcos's picture

In what way is Farage right with his populist rhetoric?

There is nothing screwed up about the sums of money he gets paid in Brussels.

The EU has worked brilliantly for him.

What would he be doing to get paid a small fortune, if the EU did not exist?

OldTrooper's picture

Oh, he'd probably go back into the finacial field and make 10-100 times the pay he makes with the EU.


vamoose1's picture

  europe  is   irretrievably   fucked   and   so   are   we   this  comedy  act   has   now   gone   critical   mass   planet  wide


    spring  awaits 

Lumberjack's picture

Aw hell, corruption is a renewable resource... 

Handful of Dust's picture

Mohr Swiss bank accounts, eh? The Swiss love wars, dictatorships, corruption, and so on.  Those people have to hide their moolah somewhere right? Why don't the police go after those bankers who were accomplices?  Didn't they wonder where "a trunkoad of 500-euro notes" was coming from?

Son of Loki's picture

I have a heck of a time cashing $500 bills in the USA.

Coast Watcher's picture

If you had any, you mean? Nothing over $100 bills has been in general circulation for many decades in the U.S.

WmMcK's picture

Patience, grasshopper. Note my avatar and fear my return.

Anusocracy's picture

The problem isn't Switzerland, the problem is that the majority of any population is too stupid to resist being looted.

And the minority that is aware gets forced by gunpoint to join in with the dolts.

GeezerGeek's picture

Fortunately the US has such trustworthy public servants as Eric Holder and Janet Napolitano to protect its citizens from nefarious, corrupt politicians.

TNTARG's picture

And Paulson, oh Paulson and the TARP! Those were public servants!

willwork4food's picture

And Geithner, don't forget how lucky we all were to have a loyal boy like timah...may Jesus bless him and take him away. Soon.

CH1's picture

And why would we want banks to play by rules made up by the US regime?

falak pema's picture

where is the catalonian passionara? 

steve from virginia's picture



Peak Oil is ugly.


Syria, Egypt, Greece, Ireland ... now Spain ... soon to come France ... all head first into the rat hole.


Where is the bottom? There is no bottom, a country can become Somalia ... Haiti or Zimbabwe. What is 'beneath Yemen'?


The 'modern' states are bankrupted by their automobiles: hundreds of millions of hungry metal boxes that do not return anything by way of their use. The boxes themselves and the fuel they require must be borrowed for ... to the tune of hundreds of trillions of dollars, euros, yen and other currencies.


Huge, intrusive, corrupt governments are put into place then expanded in order to manage the debts and keep building roads and whatnot for the cars.


The only way to retire maturing debt is to refinance, to borrow more, to pay compounding interest it is to borrow more still. Borrowing ceases when loans offer diminished returns, at that point the country itself is insolvent ... because it can no longer borrow.


Who can lend? Why keep lending for the autos? As long as there is an auto running in these countries ... Greece, Spain, Portugal, Egypt ... France ... China ... USA ... the economies will decline to the point of complete collapse and the absence of any-and-all services including food and water.


Drive and die, bitchez!

Haus-Targaryen's picture

Except for the ability to move people & goods more easily.  Transportation increses the supply of services thus decreasing prices and making things more efficient.  Fueling cars has nothing to do with the downturn in our economics -- its the vast social programs that governments cannot afford, and the consumer spending (that does include transportation BTW) that some people cannot afford.  I can afford my car, its insurance and its gas with money I make -- not borrowed funds.  You're ideology would deprive me of my automobile to fulfill some masocistic fantasy of yours which I'm faily certain is akin to rake fucking yourself, and not with the small wooden-end.   


Without transportation the world's economy would reset to the 18th century.  While I'm sure you eco-fascists would love that -- it will never, ever, ever happen you worthless trolling piece of shit.


Gas yourself.  

AnAnonymous's picture

Except for the ability to move people & goods more easily. Transportation increses the supply of services thus decreasing prices and making things more efficient.

More infinite growth, the 'american' mantra.

Makings things more efficient? Efficient in what? Performing more consumption?

Moving people and goods more easily? For what? Performing more consumption?

Decreasing prices? And what? To perform more consumption?

'Americans', their nature is eternal.

The future is now a quasi certain future, courtesy of 'americans'.

CompassionateFascist's picture

The world isn't suffering from Peak Oil. It is suffering from Peak Jew. 

NuYawkFrankie's picture

Re Peak Jew....

Not to be confused with Mountain Dew

steve from virginia's picture




(Sigh ...)


Okay ... find out the hard way, I don't care.


What's coming ... is going to hit this fat, (mentally) lazy country like the hammer of Thor. Nowhere to run ... nowhere to hide within two years.



Haus-Targaryen's picture

Its why I moved to Germany.  


Irrespective of what happens to the Germans, their quality of life is always superior to that of the people around them.  Try your thesis again.  


(No where to run, except the Nordic and Germanic countries .... and Russia if you've invested in Gold)