Spanish PM apologises for party corruption scandals29 october 2014, 13:10
Spain prime minister apologised for corruption scandals involving members of his conservative Popular Party on Tuesday, a day after police detained 51 people in nationwide graft raids, AFP reports.
Police on Monday arrested 51 public officials and business leaders -- including top members of the ruling party -- as part of a probe into a kickback scheme.
"In the name of the Popular Party I want to apologise for having put people in positions of responsibility who were not fit for them and who apparently abused their positions," Prime Minister Rajoy said during a debate in parliament.
"I understand that Spaniards are fed up. This behaviour is especially hurtful when Spaniards have had to endure so many sacrifices to get our country out of the economic crisis."
The public officials held are suspected of receiving illegal payments from companies in return for political favours, including the awarding of contracts worth roughly 250 million euros ($315 million) for construction and infrastructure projects during the past two years.
Those arrested include Francisco Granados, a former Popular Party deputy president of the Madrid regional government, who resigned in February after it emerged he had at least 1.5 million euros in a Swiss bank account.
The probe is the latest in a string of corruption scandals that have hit Spain's political parties, banks, football clubs and even members of the royal family.
It comes on the heels of another scandal that has tainted former International Monetary Fund head Rodrigo Rato, a stalwart of the Popular Party and a former finance minister.
He was questioned by a judge on October 16 over alleged spending sprees on secret company credit cards by him and other ex-managers in the bailed-out finance group Bankia.
Rato and over 80 others face possible charges of corporate crimes over allegations that they spent a total of 15 million euros on nightclubs, safaris and other luxuries.
Graft is Spaniards' second-biggest concern after the nation's sky-high unemployment rate of 24 percent, according to the latest state-sponsored poll by the Centre for Sociological Research.