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Industry Minister José Manuel Soria resigns over Panama Papers

Popular Party politician leaves role in Cabinet, Congress and as party leader over offshore firms

Soria pictured on Wednesday in Madrid.
Soria pictured on Wednesday in Madrid.

Spain’s acting industry minister, José Manuel Soria, on Friday announced he was stepping down over his involvement in offshore companies.

The move comes at the end of a week when his name was linked to the Panama Papers, a trove of 11.5 million internal documents from a Panama-based law firm that was leaked to the media.

The politician also gave up his positions as congressional deputy and president of the Popular Party (PP) in the Canary Islands, his home region.

After initially denying allegations of his involvement in a Bahamas firm and a mirror company in Britain, Soria had agreed to appear in Congress next week to provide explanations.

But further emerging information about his alleged ties to a Jersey-based company put Soria up against the ropes on Thursday.

Both Soria and the PP had claimed that the acting minister was not present on the organization chart of any opaque company. But documents seen by EL PAÍS in the company register of Jersey island show his signature confirming that he was director of a company named Mechanical Trading Limited.

In a press release, Soria explained that he had held a conversation with acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and informed him of his decision to step down.

“Following a conversation with the prime minister, I conveyed my irrevocable decision to resign from the functions that I was tasked with since December 21 as minister of industry, energy and tourism,” reads the statement.

Soria said he made the decision on the basis of “the lack of precise information over events that took place over 20 years ago” and “out of consideration for the evident harm that this situation is causing the Popular Party.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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