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Industry minister Soria resigns over Panamá leaks
thinkSPAIN , Friday, April 15, 2016

ACTING minister for industry José Manuel Soria has resigned from his post after being named in the so-called Panamá leaks, but has not admitted to having been director of an offshore company.

Soria, in his letter to caretaking president Mariano Rajoy (PP), in which he said his resignation was 'irrevocable', spoke of 'errors' and 'lack of information' about 'what happened over 20 years ago'.

The missive states that the Panamá Papers have caused 'evident damage to the Spanish government and the PP', as well as his colleagues and the party's voters.

Soria has also given up his MP seat and his role as regional president of the PP in the Canary Islands, where he used to be mayor of Las Palmas city council.

Information revealed by three Spanish daily newspapers claimed the company in question, UK Lines Ltd, based in the Bahamas was created in 1992 by the Panamá City-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, which has an office in the Caribbean archipelago.

They set up the firm at the request of an intermediary named Canal Trust Company Ltd, and it depended upon BBV Privanza Jersey, part of the BBVA bank group.

Two other firms were shareholders in UK Lines – BIBJ Nominees Ltd and BIBJ Management Ltd – both of which were also part of the BBVA.

The British company owned by Soria's family, Oceanic Lines, was 20% owned by Consignatoria Oceanic – the Spanish branch of the Sorias' business – and the remaining 80% was held by an offshore firm in Jersey, Mechanical Trading Ltd, set up in 1993.

Mechanical Trading's director was Canal Trust and its shareholders were, once again, BIBJ Nominees and BIBJ Management.

With the link between Oceanic Lines and UK Lines established in the Spanish daily press, the person or persons behind them was only a step away from being revealed.

According to a document by Dato Capital published in national daily El Mundo, the 'real' directors of Mechanical Trading were Soria and his brother Luis Alberto.

When the firm was wound up on November 27, 2002, both of them signed the papers in their own names, thus revealing their identities.

Back then, Soria was mayor of Las Palmas, the capital of the island of Gran Canaria, having been elected for the role seven years earlier.

Since his name came to light in the Panamá leaks on Monday, Soria has been hotly denying ever having been a shareholder or manager of any company in any tax haven.

Soria has put off his appearing in Parliament to give explanations until this coming Monday, April 18.



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