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Ex-treasurer of Spain's ruling party says inherited slush fund: source

MADRID (Reuters) - A former treasurer for Spain's ruling People's Party who is accused of amassing personal wealth from a secret slush fund told a judge on Thursday that he inherited the fund from the party's former secretary general, a court source said. Luis Barcenas testified in a closed hearing before the High Court on Thursday over allegations that 48 million euros ($66 million) held in Swiss bank accounts stemmed from backhanders from business executives to the People's Party (PP).

Spain faces divide after blocking Catalan referendum

Spain faced a national divide Wednesday after its lawmakers overwhelmingly shot down Catalonia's bid for an independence referendum. Spain's parliament refused the northeastern region's request to hold a November 9 referendum by a landslide 299 votes to 47 after a seven-hour debate Tuesday. But Catalonia's head of government Artur Mas vowed to find a way to hold a legal popular vote over his region's independence. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy led parliament in spurning Catalonia's secessionist bid, refusing to countenance a breakup of Spain.

Italy PM will ask Spain to treat Italy bidders for Deoleo fairly

VERONA (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said on Wednesday he planned to ask Spain to treat foreign firms bidding for a stake in top global olive oil bottler Deoleo fairly. On Tuesday, British private equity fund CVC Capital Partners emerged as the frontrunner in bidding for Deoleo, two banking sources said. Among other bidders was Italy's state-backed Fondo Strategico Italiano (FSI), which had made an offer to buy a 30 percent stake in the Spanish group as it seeks to bring home some local brands now under Deoleo.

Spanish parliament rejects Catalonia independence bid

Spain's parliament on Tuesday shot down a Catalan petition to call a referendum on secession, setting the stage for a bitter sovereignty struggle between the government and the country's economic engine. "I defend that Catalonia should remain in Spain because I can't conceive of Spain without Catalonia nor of Catalonia outside of Spain and Europe," Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told the assembly before the vote.

Catalan leader says parliament rejection won't halt referendum

By Raquel Castillo MADRID (Reuters) - Catalonia President Artur Mas said on Tuesday he would forge ahead with his region's plans to hold a referendum on independence in November after Spain's parliament overwhelmingly rejected the petition. After a seven-hour debate in the national parliament in Madrid, and despite heavy support for the separatist movement in the wealthy northeastern region, 299 lawmakers voted against, 47 voted for and one abstained.

Spain lawmakers set to reject Catalan independence vote

Spanish lawmakers are set to vote Tuesday to shoot down Catalonia's quest for an independence referendum, setting the stage for a bitter sovereignty struggle. The assembly debated a motion from the regional government of Catalonia, which has its own language and a long history of fighting for greater autonomy from Spain, asking for permission to hold the referendum on November 9, with a vote followed in the evening.

'Catalonia outside of Spain' is inconceivable: Spanish PM

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Tuesday he "could not conceive of a Catalonia outside of Spain" during a debate in parliament over the region's bid to hold an independence referendum. "I defend that Catalonia should remain in Spain because I can't conceive of Spain without Catalonia nor of Catalonia outside of Spain and Europe," he told the assembly. "Together we all win and separate we all lose," he added. "It is not possible to grant what the Catalan parliament requests of us because the constitution does not allow it."

Book on Spain king 'conspiracy' rattles palace

A book published Thursday angered Spain's royal palace by alleging King Juan Carlos plotted against his former ally Adolfo Suarez, a Spanish democratic hero who died last month. The palace rejected claims by popular historian Pilar Urbano that the king conspired to oust Suarez as prime minister and unwittingly set the scene for an attempted military coup in 1981. Crowds of mourners lined the streets last month to honour Suarez, credited with steering Spain to democracy alongside Juan Carlos after the death of the dictator Franco.

Britain summons Spanish ambassador over Gibraltar 'incursion'

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain summoned the Spanish ambassador on Wednesday to condemn an incursion by Spanish vessels into Gibraltar's territorial waters. "I strongly condemn this provocative incursion and urge the Spanish government to ensure that it is not repeated," said Britain's europe minister, David Lidington, after Ambassador Federico Trillo was summoned.

EU slaps 300 mn euro anti-trust fine on power cable firms

The European Commission on Wednesday fined 11 producers of high-voltage power cables a total of 300 million euros for operating a cartel that secretly split up the global market. "These companies knew very well that what they were doing was illegal. This is why they acted cautiously and with great secrecy," said EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said. arp/ccr/hd
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