DIRTY MONEY

Tax amnesty brought 40 billion euros to light, minister says

Final figure means average fine on hidden assets was three percent

Madrid PP politician López Viejo shown to have held Swiss accounts

The controversial tax amnesty that was in place last year brought about 40 billion euros of assets to the surface that had previously been kept hidden from the Spanish tax authorities, Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro told Congress on Wednesday.

The government had been looking to bring in 2.5 billion euros with the move through a 10-percent charge on what was declared, but only managed to swell the state's coffers by 1.193 billion euros.

That implied that those coming clean on undeclared assets and earnings paid under three percent to do so on average. This is because the surcharge was only payable on income from 2007 onward due to the statute of limitations on such matters.

Montoro insisted that the tax amnesty did not release anyone from criminal charges for any illegal activities in which they had engaged to obtain the assets in question.

In a separate development, Alberto López Viejo, who was commissioner for sports in the Popular Party Madrid regional government of then-premier Esperanza Aguirre, was revealed to have held several bank accounts in Switzerland, according to information provided to a judge investigating the Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts scandal. While in office, López Viejo allegedly awarded contracts to the head of the corruption ring, Francisco Correa, in exchange for bribes.

López Viejo opened the accounts with his wife in 2002 with the Swiss private bank Mirabaud. At one point the accounts had as much as 1.6 million euros deposited. Like the former treasurer of the ruling PP, Luis Bárcenas, López Viejo took advantage of the tax amnesty.

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