Spanish Premier Refuses to Step Down Amid Scandal

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced his refusal to resign on Monday amid increasing allegations of fraud and corruption, calling it “blackmail”, the New York Times reported.

His announcement came after protests erupted in Barcelona.

His former party treasurer, Luis Barcenas, reportedly said before a judge that he had made payments to Rajoy and several other center-right politicians from a secret party slush fund.

Luis Barcenas was subpoenaed by Judge Pablo Ruz after ledger entries showing the People’s Party had kept a second set of books recording secret payments to officials, including Rajoy, were published in El Mundo on July 9, the British daily Independent reported Monday. El Mundo also published records of text messages between Rajoy and Barcenas on Sunday.

The new allegations came in a four-hour closed hearing on Monday. Barcenas has been part of an investigation into the People’s Party since February 2009.

Rajoy has continuously rejected calls to resign since fraud allegations within the People’s Party were publicly linked to him in January when the newspaper El Pais published secret party accounts that showed he had hidden €250,000 from tax authorities.

The prime minister claimed the information in El Mundo was an attempt at blackmail, and insisted he would finish his four-year term that runs through December 2015.