14 Mar, 2024 @ 15:55
2 mins read

Pressure grows on Madrid regional premier Isabel Diaz Ayuso to quit, after revelation that her partner admitted tax fraud over sale of Covid-19 masks

OPPOSITION parties in the Madrid regional government ramped up the pressure on Partido Popular (PP) premier Isabel Diaz Ayuso to quit on Thursday, after it emerged that her partner, Alberto Gonzalez Amador, had admitted to prosecutors that he committed tax fraud offences related to the sale of face masks during the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Just yesterday, a visibly nervous Ayuso made statements to the press in which she claimed the whole affair was a ‘political persecution’ by the governing Socialist Party in a bid to distract attention from a similar investigation that came to light recently, known as the ‘Koldo case’. 

“They want to destabilise me via my personal destruction,” claimed Ayuso on Wednesday. “Pedro Sanchez is mired in political and economic corruption and this is not going to cover it up,” she added. 

But on Thursday, media outlets such as radio network Cadena SER revealed that Gonzalez’s lawyer had written to prosecutors in connection with the investigation into his business dealings, in which he admitted to the accusations of tax fraud for the years 2020 and 2021.

The move was a bid to reduce the fine he would have to pay as well as evade a prison sentence.

The Madrid public prosecutor released a statement on Thursday morning in which it confirmed that Ayuso’s partner had indeed offered such a deal via the lawyer’s letter. 

The latest revelations in the case gave the opposition plenty of ammunition during a session in the regional parliament on Thursday.

“You have taken advantage of luxury items that were allegedly acquired with money that was fraudulently taken from all Spaniards,” said Juan Lobato, the Socialist leader in the Madrid assembly. “And you are lying,” he added. 

The case is a major embarrassment for both Ayuso and the PP. 

Madrid premier Isabel Diaz Ayuso
Isabel Diaz Ayuso in a file photo taken inside the Madrid regional parliament. Cordon Press

In recent weeks the party has been attacking the governing Socialist Party for its alleged links to the Koldo case, which involves commissions that were supposedly paid to the right-hand man of the former transport minister, Jose Luis Abalos, for facilitating government contracts for face masks.

It was Spanish daily El Diario that first broke the news about the case against Gonzalez, who is suspected by prosecutors of having evaded €350,951 in taxes during 2020 and 2021, by creating a web of dummy corporations and fake invoices. 

He is accused of using these methods to reduce the real profits of his companies, which were made during the worst years of the Covid-19 pandemic, and thus pay less tax. 

According to El Diario, Gonzalez filed 15 fake invoices for invented costs, for a total of €1.7 million. He wrote this amount off against his taxes as expenses, thus saving himself the aforementioned sum of €350,951.

Both of the companies that are being investigated, Maxwell Cremona Ingeniería y Procesos para el Fomento del Medioambiente, and Masterman & Whitaker Medical Supplies and Health Process Engineering, are 100% owned by Gonzalez.

The first is a company offering healthcare services, while the second, a firm that has no employees, is dedicated to cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. 

The investigation began after he filed his tax returns in 2021 and 2022, which corresponded to the previous years. The Spanish Tax Agency could see from the figures that while his companies’ sales had increased sixfold during 2020, to €2.3 million, they had only registered €8,400 in profits due to the suspect costs. 

There is no evidence of any wrongdoing by his partner, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, who is 45 years old and has been the regional premier of Madrid since 2019.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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