Madrid premier claims to be victim of political campaign over partner’s tax fraud charges: ‘As long as it is legal, I am free to get in that car or into that bed’

Isabel Díaz Ayuso says the million-euro commissions charged by Alberto González are being aired to cover up the Spanish central government’s own graft scandal, known as the ‘Koldo case’

Isabel Díaz Ayuso
Madrid regional premier Isabel Díaz Ayuso, of the conservative Popular Party (PP), during a news conference on Wednesday.Álvaro García

The head of Spain’s Madrid region, Isabel Díaz Ayuso of the mainstream conservative Popular Party (PP), on Wednesday portrayed herself as a victim of a political destabilization campaign orchestrated by the governing Socialists (PSOE), allegedly to cover up a corruption scandal and the fallout from an amnesty bill that would benefit Catalan separatists involved in the unilateral breakaway attempt of 2017.

After learning that prosecutors are charging her sentimental partner, Alberto González Amador, with two counts of tax fraud and one of document forgery in connection with million-euro fees he charged a company that imported facemasks during the Covid-19 pandemic, Díaz Ayuso claimed that her partner is being deliberately targeted by a “wild and crazy tax inspection,” and being “besieged” by “all the powers of the state” just because of his personal ties to herself.

Díaz-Ayuso, who has led the Madrid region since August 2019 and won re-election in 2021 and 2023, denied that González Amador used false invoices or shell companies to avoid paying €351,000 in taxes between 2020 and 2021, as the investigation claims.

“If, after a lifetime of work, this person has assets and can afford to buy a house, a car or seven cars, well as long as it is legal, as long as everything is above board, as long as it is done before a notary, then I am free to get in that car or get into that bed,” said Díaz Ayuso, alluding to the luxury apartment and the high-end car that González bought while his company, Maxwell Cremona, multiplied its sales by six thanks to his work as a commission agent in the sale of facemasks and other protective gear at the height of the pandemic.

On May 5, 2020, Maxwell Cremona invoiced €1,009,527.02 to the company FCS Select Products S. L., a Barcelona-based firm with contacts in China that began importing facemasks despite formally specializing in the energy drinks sector. The invoice, which EL PAÍS has seen, is part of the complaint against the businessman for allegedly defrauding €351,000 in the tax years 2020 and 2021. The invoice lists the services delivered as “customer marketing,” alluding to mediation work between the seller and buyer of imported health material: in other words, a commission. To that invoice would be added a second one of more than €1 million dated August 5, 2020, for the same services, according to the online daily eldiario.es.

“I would have a responsibility if taxpayer money or my position had been used to achieve some of that,” said Díaz Ayuso. “They are seeking to destabilize me through my personal destruction. Pedro Sánchez is sitting in political and economic corruption and this is not going to cover it up.”

Exchange of accusations in parliament

Pedro Sánchez
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez speaking inside the Congress of Deputies on Wednesday.Álvaro García

Her statements came just a few hours after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, a Socialist, asked for her resignation over the scandal. In a heated parliament session where the PSOE and the PP exchanged a volley of accusations, Sánchez told PP national leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo that “I demand that you request Ms. Ayuso’s resignation as Madrid premier (...) in order to start being a little credible in your fight against corruption.”

Right before that, Núñez Feijóo had told Sánchez that “your future is marked by corruption (…) your government is under investigation and so are you; you should volunteer explanations” about the so-called Koldo case, a graft scandal also involving hefty commissions to procure facemasks during the Covid pandemic. That case is named after Koldo García, a former bouncer who was a close adviser to ex-transportation minister José Luis Ábalos and who is now at the heart of an investigation into contracts for facemasks worth €54 million. Ábalos has since been expelled from the PSOE but refuses to give up his parliamentary seat.

Ayuso’s brother

This is not the first time that members of Díaz Ayuso’s close circle have become embroiled in corruption cases. In 2022, a scandal erupted over allegations that her brother had received a €234,000 commission from a company that became a contractor of the Madrid regional government.

“The most suspicious thing, the most murky thing, is to see all the powers of the state leaking data about an individual to all the newsrooms to try to destroy a politician,” said Díaz Ayuso, whose headline-grabbing, populist style of politics has earned her critics even within the PP. “If I am guilty of anything, it is of having a relationship with an anonymous citizen. The next time I go out with someone I will ask for their resume, tax certificate and vaccination certificate.”

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