PP politician resigns amid Spanish corruption scandal

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The Madrid regional government councillor for sports is first of the five to resign after being accused of corruption, tax fraud and money laundering.

MADRID – A corruption scandal involving people with ties to Spain's main opposition Popular Party claimed its first political victim on Monday with the resignation of a Madrid regional government councillor.

The president of the Madrid regional government, former education minister Esperanza Aguirre, said she had accepted the resignation of her councillor for sports, Alberto Lopez Viejo.

The decision came after press reports linked the councillor to one of five people arrested on Friday and accused of "corruption, influence peddling, money laundering, tax fraud and illicit association".

"It seems that some of the companies which we worked with in the past coincide with those which are under investigation," Aguirre told a news conference.

"I want to thank Lopez Viejo for his generosity in resigning so that those who are behind this campaign against the PP can't use him," she added.

The scandal comes as the PP is plagued by infighting and just weeks ahead of regional elections on 1 March in Spain's northeastern Basque Country and the northwestern Galicia region.

Among those arrested was Francisco Correa, owner of a firm called "Special Events", which has organised party meetings, and Antonio Rubio, a top party official in Galicia.

Lopez Viejo had business dealings with Correa, according to Spanish media reports.

The PP's image had already taken a blow because of allegations made earlier this year that it spied on its members in Madrid.

Polls show it trailing the ruling Socialists despite a sharp economic contraction which has saddled Spain with the highest unemployment rate in the 27-nation European Union.

[AFP / Expatica]

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