Discrepancies in the description of a rural home owned by Popular Party (PP) secretary general María Dolores de Cospedal have raised questions about whether they were incorrectly listed, or part of an attempt by the conservative official to shield her wealth.
De Cospedal, who is also regional premier of Castilla-La Mancha, owns a home on the banks of the Tagus River in Toledo that is described in the property register as measuring 652 square meters. The building is located on a 12,452-square-meter tract of land. As part of a pre-nuptial agreement, she owns half the property; the other half belongs to Hilo Inversiones, a real estate group owned by her husband, Ignacio López del Hierro.
But the financial disclosure published by De Cospedal in Castilla-La Mancha’s official gazette (DOCM) in November only put the size of the home at 280 square meters, and did not include any details about the surrounding land that is described in the property register.
PP sources in Castilla-La Mancha defended the listing by explaining that the land had little value if no home was built on it.
“The essence and value of the property is housing, because nobody buys land on the banks of the Tagus for anything other than building a structure. Therefore, the plot would not be worth much if you just bought the land,” said one source, who also explained that the area was under a special protection regime.
Under these regulations, homes cannot be built along the banks of the Tagus on land with a surface area of under 7,500 square meters. The rules also outline strict conditions for building in the area, but do not address the appraisal of the lands.
“It is a mistake,” the source admits in reference to the discrepancy between the size of the house listed in the DOCM and the property register.
Cristina Maestre, spokesperson for the opposition Socialist Party in the region, said there was a clear attempt by De Cospedal to “shield her income and lifestyle while at the same time she asks everyone for austerity.”
On more than one occasion De Cospedal has had to provide explanations about her income and paid activities, Maestre said. The Socialists are also questioning the source of her home, which was reportedly a gift from the company where her husband worked.
But the PP insists there is nothing shady about the numbers. “Very few public officials in Spain release financial statements with such detail as De Cospedal has done,” one party source said. “There is no omission, much less an intent to withhold information.”