High-profile Spaniards are among the list of influential people named in the largest journalistic leak in history suggesting they have connections with secret companies in Panama to escape tax scrutiny in Spain.
Pilar de Borbón, the older sister of the former Spanish King Juan Carlos and the aunt of King Felipe was president and director of a Panama-registered company from 1974, according to the Mossack Fonesca files.
Pilar de Borbon, the sister of King Juan Carlos sitting her great neices during the abdication ceremony. Photo: AFP
La Infanta, who was a keen horsewoman and fundraiser for a charity supporting homeless children, maintained the role until the company was dissolved the same month as King Juan Carlos abdicated in June 2014 according to the leak.
The wife of former Spanish Agriculture Minister Miguel Arias Cañete (currently the European Commission's Climate Action & Energy Commissioner) was also named in the papers.
Micaela Domecq Solís-Beaumont was empowered to approve transactions of Rinconada Investments Group SA, a Panama company registered in 2005 which was in existence while her husband Miguel Arias Cañete held public positions in Spain and the European Union.
A member of the aristocratic Domecq family, a dynasty with interests in bull breeding, wine and forestry, the Panama papers stated that family interests had benefited from EU farm subsidies during the time that her husband had “served on the European Parliament’s agriculture committee for many years before becoming Spain’s agriculture minister in 2000 and again in 2011. He urged expansion of EU agriculture subsidies to cover bull breeding.”
A lawyer for Domecq said that she had declared all of her income and assets to Spanish tax authorities. The lawyer said Rinconada is not active and that Domecq has no power or attorney and is not “an authorized signatory for the company.”
Meanwhile it was reported that Lionel Messi and his family are planning to sue for defamation after El Confidencial online newspaper linked the Barcelona star to tax evasion projects thanks to “the Panama Papers“.
Lionel Messi is facing tax fraud case in Spain. Photo: AFP
The newspaper claimed that the Barça star and Argentina captain “set up a tax fraud network” by using Panamanian company Mega Star Enterprises to avoid paying tax on image rights deals, just one day after being indicted by Spanish fiscal authorities over a separate case worth an alleged €4million in unpaid taxes.
Oscar-winning director Pedro Almodóvar's name was also revealed in the papers, which showed that he and his brother Agustin were linked to a company registered in 1991 but inactive since 1994.
Spain's most famous director appeared in the leaked papers. Photo: AFP
The leak came to light on Sunday thanks to the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and suggests that 140 politicians and officials from around the globe, including 72 former and current world leaders, have connections with the secret companies to escape tax scrutiny in their countries.
The leak involves more than 11 million documents from Mossack Fonseca, one of the world’s biggest offshore law firms.
The papers implicate Russian President Vladimir Putin and his cronies in secret offshore financial deals to channel and launder money.
Among the other politicians implicated in the leak are Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and many others.
Panama's government announced that it operates a “zero-tolerance policy in all areas of law and finance where work is carried out without the highest level of transparency” and that prosecutors would look into the files for evidence of crimes.