tax inspection

Auditors investigate Sanitas for allegedly avoiding €28.07 million in taxes

Health-management company thought to have used transactions for write-offs, sources tell EL PAÍS

Sanitas’ main offices in Madrid.
Sanitas’ main offices in Madrid.LUIS MAGÁN

Auditors are investigating whether Spanish medical giant Grupo Bupa Sanitas may have defrauded the Spanish AEAT tax agency of €28.07 million, sources close to the case have told EL PAÍS.

Sanitas, which manages health services and private hospitals across Spain, allegedly made a fraudulent business transaction that allowed it to avoid paying €14.6 million in 2007 and €4.4 million between 2008 and 2010, the sources said.

A partnership entered into by Sanitas allegedly served so that the company could write off expenses and show a depreciation of business transactions in order to defraud the treasury, say the same sources, who have extensive knowledge of the ongoing inquiry.

Specifically, AEAT auditors are looking into the purchase of shares by Grupo Bupa Sanitas in Bupa Care Homes and Bupa Treasury – two businesses registered in the UK. These two holdings form part of the Bupa Group, whose parent company is The British United Provident Association.

“It is normal that there can be discrepancies in the way the AEAT tax code is interpreted”

Despite Sanitas’ objections, auditors have been firm, the sources said. AEAT believes that the transactions, which they claim were simulated, do not qualify for tax exemptions. Therefore, investigators believe that the purpose for the entire operation was a fraud scheme, the sources explain.

A company spokesman denied that Sanitas had conspired to commit tax fraud and said that in its 50 years in existence the healthcare management giant has always paid its taxes.

“The company is in the process of undergoing a tax audit, which is routinely and periodically performed on giant firms,” the spokesman said. “It is normal that there can be discrepancies in the way the AEAT tax code is interpreted.”

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