Spanish minister named in Panama Papers resigns

MADRID • Spain's acting Industry Minister Jose Manuel Soria said yesterday he was immediately resigning over alleged links to offshore dealings which emerged after he was named in the Panama Papers.

Mr Soria has denied all wrongdoing, but said he was stepping down to limit damage to the caretaker People's Party (PP) government, following revelations of alleged links to an offshore company in the British island of Jersey.

The resignation comes as Spain faces the likelihood of a second general election in June after an inconclusive December vote. The latest polls have shown the PP gaining ground despite corruption scandals involving regional politicians, as voters tire of other parties' failures to put aside their differences and form a coalition government.

Leaks from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca have embarrassed several world leaders and shed light on the shadowy world of offshore companies by revealing the finances of prominent figures.

Iceland's then prime minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson stepped down earlier this month after documents linked him to an offshore company.

Meanwhile, Panama has decided to adopt international tax reporting standards, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development chief Jose Angel Gurria said on Thursday, calling it the beneficial impact of the controversy.

"If that is the case and they do it in whole, that is very good news indeed and we would welcome that move." Mr Gurria told a news conference during the IMF and World Bank spring meetings.

The leak of thousands of confidential documents from a Panamanian law firm earlier this month highlighted Panama's failure to cooperate in international efforts to clamp down on tax evasion by the rich and powerful.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 16, 2016, with the headline 'Spanish minister named in Panama Papers resigns'. Print Edition | Subscribe