Newspaper article International New York Times

Spain's Industry Minister Resigns as Scandal Unfolds ; Leaks in Panama Papers Tie Premier's Confidant to Offshore Investments

Newspaper article International New York Times

Spain's Industry Minister Resigns as Scandal Unfolds ; Leaks in Panama Papers Tie Premier's Confidant to Offshore Investments

Article excerpt

The resignation of Jose Manuel Soria, who has not been charged with wrongdoing, comes at a time of turmoil in Spanish politics, after inconclusive elections in December.

The Spanish minister of industry, energy and tourism resigned Friday morning after documents in the so-called Panama Papers linked him to offshore investments in the Bahamas, and news reports then connected him to a company in the tax haven of Jersey.

The minister, Jose Manuel Soria, a member of the acting government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, is among the highest- profile figures to suffer politically since the release of the leaked papers, which identify companies and people suspected of using offshore bank accounts and shell companies to conceal their wealth or avoid taxes.

Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson of Iceland said he was temporarily stepping aside after documents showed that he and his wife had set up a company in the British Virgin Islands in 2007. Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain has also been the subject of scrutiny after acknowledging that he and his wife had owned shares in an offshore trust, inherited from his father, that were sold before he became prime minister in 2010.

The resignation of Mr. Soria, who has not been charged with wrongdoing, comes at a time of turmoil in Spanish politics, after inconclusive elections in December. Mr. Rajoy's Popular Party won the most votes but lost its majority in Parliament, making it likely that new elections will be held in late June.

Fernando Martinez-Maillo, a senior official in the Popular Party, told Spanish national television that Mr. Soria's resignation was linked to "a professional activity prior to his entrance in politics."

"Mr. Soria has been a politician for more than 20 years and has led his political activity in exemplary fashion," Mr. Martinez- Maillo said, describing the move as a "very logical decision. …

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