Crisis deepens at Tax Agency with new firings

Bloodletting continues as new head wields the axe Latest personnel changes come hot on heels of resignation of director

The resignation this week of the director of the financial inspection department of the Tax Agency, Luis Jones, because of "significant" differences of opinion with the new general manager of the agency, Santiago Menéndez, has sparked further changes to personnel at Spain’s equivalent of the US Internal Revenue Service.

Menéndez took the opportunity of Jones’s departure to bring forward the reorganization of the agency he was planning, replacing top officials with his own people. He dismissed the special delegates to the regions of Galicia, Castilla y León and Cantabria as well as the head of the planning and institutional relations department, sources at the agency said.

The sources said the replacement of those officials had been planned prior to Jones’s resignation as part of a reorganization due to take place at the start of next year, but that the departure of the financial inspection director had caused the overhaul to be brought forward.

Jones’s decision to step down followed the dismissal of a tax inspector who threw out an appeal by cement manufacturing giant Cemex's Spanish subsidiary against a 450-million-euro fine, a decision that went against the criteria of the management, a number of workers at the agency told EL PAÍS. Her sacking led to the resignation of her immediate boss and at least two other colleagues.

The Tax Agency denies that the changes in personnel reflect political interference and attributed them instead to the normal renewal of the institution’s organizational chart after a new general manager comes on board.

Menéndez replaced Beatriz Viana in June after a mix-up that occurred in an ongoing investigation by the agency into the tax affairs of King Juan Carlos' daughter Princess Cristina led to his predecessor’s resignation.

Since his arrival, Menéndez has made 29 personnel changes at the agency, compared with the 51 that took place in the same period when his predecessor was in charge. Some 26,000 people work for the Spanish Tax Agency.

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