Cañete embroiled in Panama Papers scandal

Many European politicians will face tough questions on tax evasion after the leaked documents from Panama. [Matthew Straubmuller/Flickr]

The wife of Miguel Arias Cañete is listed as a shareholder of an investment company in Panama, which the Climate Commissioner failed to mention in his declaration of interests. EURACTIV France reports.

A record number of leaked files were revealed on Sunday (3 April), bringing to light the complex financial structures used by thousands of wealthy and powerful people in Panama.

Record-breaking leak exposes offshore holdings of politicians and elites

The hidden wealth of some of the world’s most prominent leaders, politicians and celebrities has been revealed by an unprecedented leak of millions of documents which show the myriad ways in which the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax regimes.

Many influential Europeans appear on the list of clients of the offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca, from which millions of files were leaked to the Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with around 100 other media companies by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). One of these clients is the wife of Commissioner Cañete.

Spain’s top man in the European Commission had already come under fire from the European Parliament during his candidacy for the position, because MEPs felt shares in oil companies represented a conflict of interests. A petition calling for the Parliament to reject Cañete’s nomination at the time collected more than 580,000 signatures.

Cañete’s hearing spells trouble for Juncker

The formation of a new European Union executive hit trouble yesterday, as the hearing of Spanish commissioner-designate for climate and energy Miguel Arias Cañete revealed mounting opposition among MEPs against his appointment in the Juncker commission. EURACTIV Spain contributed to this article.

This time, attention is focussed on a company called Rinconada Investments Group, of which Cañete’s wife, Micaela Domecq y Solís-Beaumont, is a shareholder.

Her family are well-known breeders of fighting bulls and own large stakes in a number of agricultural companies. The Panama Papers reveal a potential conflict of interest between the agricultural activities of the Commissioner’s wife and sons and his previous political position: Cañete’s family received European Union subsidies for raising bulls while he was serving as Spain’s minister for agriculture.

According to her lawyer, Domecq’s activities are in full compliance with the Spanish tax authorities. Cañete’s cabinet also stated that the Commissioner was married with a separation of property agreement, and that his declarations of interests were in line with the codes of conduct for the European Parliament and the Commission.

In the declaration of interests he submitted during his candidacy in 2014, the Commissioner stated that his wife owned 100% of Agricola Micaela Domecs SL, a Spanish agricultural company, as well as an advertising management company called Nova 19 SL. He made no mention of any shares in Panama.

Asked to comment on Cañete’s position and whether he had provided all the necessary explanations for his involvement in the Panama Papers scandal, the Commission said it would “not make value judgements”, but that it did not expect to receive any more information.

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