Corruption

Calls for Spain’s anti-corruption chief to quit over his Panama firm

Manuel Moix admits partial ownership of offshore company that owns luxury property outside Madrid

Spain’s chief anti-corruption prosecutor, Manuel Moix, has been, since 2012, the owner of a 25% stake in an offshore company in Panama. Duchesse Financial Overseas, whose other proprietors are Moix’s three siblings, in turn owns a luxury home in Collado Villalba (Madrid) worth around €550,000, according to a story published on Tuesday by the online news site Infolibre.

Manuel Moix in Madrid.
Manuel Moix in Madrid.Víctor Sainz

More information

Moix has admitted that he owns a quarter of this company based in the Central American tax haven, but claims that it is part of the inheritance he received from his parents, who passed away in 2008 and 2011. He also said that his tax filings reflect its existence, and that the company has not been dissolved yet for the simple reason that some of his siblings cannot afford the fees.

It is shameful that an individual whose job it is to go after corruption has assets in tax havens

Pablo Iglesias, Podemos

News of Moix’s Panama holdings has triggered calls for his resignation in Spanish Congress. Isabel Rodríguez, the deputy spokesperson for the Socialist group in the lower house, has urged Justice Minister Rafael Catalá to make a congressional appearance to provide explanations about the case, and has called for Moix’s resignation.

“Supposedly those who have interests in tax havens do so in order to avoid paying taxes,” said Pablo Iglesias, head of the anti-austerity Podemos party, speaking in the hallways of Congress. “It is shameful that an individual whose job it is to go after corruption, but who in fact is making that difficult, has assets in tax havens.”

The opposition as a whole feels that Catalá, Attorney General José Manuel Maza, and Moix have been hindering “the action of justice in judicial cases for crimes dealing with corruption.”

Faced with growing pressure, Moix now says that he is planning to speak with Attorney General Maza “tonight or tomorrow” about the case. In a radio interview on Onda Cero he said he is ready to step down if his Panama company ownership causes problems for the agency he presides.

“I have not considered resigning because I have a conversation pending with the Attorney General, but I am not attached to the post and any solution will seem reasonable to me,” he said. “I have no interest in keeping the post if I am not considered the ideal person.”

Corruption cases

The ruling Popular Party (PP) is particularly affected by a series of corruption cases ranging from Gürtel, a massive kickbacks-for-contracts scheme that will force Spain's prime minister to give testimony at the trial, to the more recent scandal at Madrid’s water utility, Canal de Isabel II, which saw a former regional premier arrested.

But both Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Justice Minister Catalá have come out in Moix’s defense. And the Attorney General’s Office has declined to comment on the case, saying that it is “a personal matter involving Moix that does not affect this department.”

Moix himself had told the Cadena SER radio network on Tuesday that he saw no reason to step down or to be removed from his post. Owning part of an offshore company is not incompatible with his position, he said.

Duchesse Financial Overseas was created in Panama on January 4, 1988, according to Infolibre. A month and a half later, this company acquired a luxury property north of Madrid that had been previously owned by Moix’s parents. During the ownership transfer, Duchesse was represented by Margarita Moix, the couple’s eldest daughter and a lawyer by trade.

The home, which has six bedrooms, five bathrooms, a swimming pool and a 4,600-square meter plot of land, was once the residence of Moix’s parents. The Panama-based company has never had any known activity beyond ownership of this home.

English version by Susana Urra.

More information