Spaniards believe Rajoy 'lied over slush fund scandal'

Spaniards overwhelmingly believe Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy lied when he denied being corrupt after his name appeared in a slush fund scandal, an opinion poll showed Saturday.

Rajoy was grilled in parliament after documents published in Spanish media showed he and other members of his conservative Popular Party had received kickbacks from construction companies.

He survived mounting calls for his resignation by denying he had ever received any cash illegally but admitting he had been wrong to trust his party's former treasurer Luis Barcenas.

According to the survey published in El Mundo newspaper, 72.1 percent of Spaniards think he "is not telling the truth".

Among supporters of the Popular Party, which he has led since 2004, 43 percent do not believe he was truthful when he defended himself in parliament on Thursday.

More than 90 percent of opposition supporters think he lied and close to 60 percent of all people surveyed say he should step down.

The opinion poll was carried out by the Sigma Dos institute on a sample of 1,000 people and has a margin of error of around three percent.

The corruption affair originated in 2009 as a judicial investigation into alleged kickbacks and exploded in January this year when leading daily El Pais published copies of ledgers showing irregular payments to top party members.

The noose appeared to tighten further around the premier's neck when Barcenas testified in court on July 15 that he handed cash to Rajoy.

Conservative newspaper El Mundo calculated that Barcenas paid a total of 343,700 euros ($456,000) to Rajoy over two decades.

Barcenas was jailed in June pending an investigation into a separate corruption case, in which he is alleged to have held 47 million euros in secret Swiss bank accounts.