Spanish Minister Resigns After Alleged Links to Offshore Deals

MADRID (Reuters) -
Spain's Industry Minister Jose Manuel Soria is confronted by a reporter with papers with his signature after his arrival for an event in Madrid, Spain, April 13, 2016. Picture taken April 13. REUTERS/Andrea Comas
Spain’s Industry Minister Jose Manuel Soria is confronted by a reporter with papers with his signature after his arrival for an event in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday. (Reuters/Andrea Comas)

Spain’s acting Industry Minister José Manuel Soria said on Friday he was resigning from his position with immediate effect after alleged links to offshore companies in Panama and Jersey.

Soria has denied all wrong-doing, but said he was stepping down to limit any damage to the caretaker government, the People’s Party (PP), at a time when Spain is facing a likely second general election after an inconclusive December vote.

The latest polls have shown the PP gaining ground, despite a string of corruption scandals involving regional politicians this year, as voters tire of leftwing parties’ failure to put aside differences to form a coalition government.

Leaks from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca have embarrassed several world leaders and shone a spotlight on the shadowy world of offshore companies by revealing the financial arrangements of prominent figures.

Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson stepped down earlier this month after documents linked him to an offshore company.

Acting Spanish Industry Minister Soria denied his involvement in an offshore company revealed by the Panama Papers after two Spanish news outlets said they had documents proving he headed an offshore firm with his brother.