THE PANAMA PAPERS

Industry minister agrees to talk about Panama Papers firm in Congress

José Manuel Soria had previously declined to elaborate on details of business in Bahamas

Acting industry minister José Manuel Soria addressing the press.
Acting industry minister José Manuel Soria addressing the press.Uly Martin

Acting Industry Minister José Manuel Soria has backtracked on his earlier refusal to provide Congress with explanations about his alleged involvement in the Panama Papers scandal.

On Tuesday, Soria told reporters that he will appear in the lower house next week to discuss why his name shows up on a list of officials of an offshore company.

The acting minister said it was “a mistake” that briefly saw his name appear on the list of directors of UK Lines Ltd., which was incorporated in the Bahamas in the 1990s. This piece of information was part of a trove of 11.5 million files held by a Panama-based law firm and leaked to the media.

It is completely false that I had a relationship with any company, business or function based in Panama, in the Bahamas or in any other tax haven

Acting Industry Minister José Manuel Soria

According to Soria, another mistake led to him being listed as secretary of said company in the British business register, the Companies House.

Allegations of Soria’s involvement in both companies were made by the online news outlet Elconfidencial and television station La Sexta.

“I want to know why my name is there,” said Soria on Tuesday. “I don’t know why that mistake was made.”

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Soria explained that he will appear before the house industry committee, which could meet on Tuesday of next week.

“It is completely false that I had a relationship with any company, business or function based in Panama, in the Bahamas or in any other tax haven,” he insisted.

A day earlier, Soria had suggested that he would not be appearing before any congressional committees, based on the acting government’s attitude that it is not beholden to the control of the current lower house.

Before meeting with the press on Tuesday, Soria had a long conversation in the halls of Congress with Dolores de Cospedal, the number two official at the Popular Party, and with chief of staff Jorge Moragas. Their gesturing suggested an argument among all three.

English version by Susana Urra.

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