Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro broke cover on Wednesday to appear in Congress over the administrative error that attributed the sale of 13 properties worth 1.4 million euros to Princess Cristina in 2005 and 2006. It has since been acknowledged that the properties in question were never registered to the king’s daughter, who is embroiled in a judicial investigation into alleged misappropriation of public funds and money-laundering on the part of her husband, the Duke of Palma.
“I cannot give explanations on concrete events,” said Montoro. “The conclusions of an investigation will determine the origin of the error. Wait for the results of the investigation. What occurred is simply an error in administrative procedure. It is most unfortunate and in the first instance I apologize to the Royal Household.”
Despite waiting six days before making a public pronouncement, the minister did not expand greatly on the statement released by his department a day earlier, which attributed the AEAT tax agency blunder to the princess’s national identity card number being erroneously inscribed on the registry forms. “An error was made when recording the data and from there when they were submitted to the judiciary,” said Montoro.
The documentation was requested by Judge José Castro, who is investigating the financial dealings of the duke and his supposedly non-profit Nóos Institute. “This [mistake] is not detrimental to the quality of the judicial process,” the minister added.
“Technically I don’t know how it happened. I do not see any cloak and dagger here; these are purely administrative errors. To say these errors do not occur is to be detached from reality,” said Montoro, claiming that measures had been adopted to ensure “this never happens again.”
The Socialists demanded the minister offer “explanations and take responsibility for an absurd situation worthy of a banana republic,” noting that the matter was hardly good for the credibility of Spain.
In response, Montoro denied any political aspect to the fiscal faux pas and said the AEAT is required to handle “an enormous volume of information.” On Tuesday Montoro avoided reporters in the corridors of Congress and similarly he declined to answer questions from the opposition bench. “The tax agency handles millions and millions of data and is one of the best and most efficient in the world,” the minister said.