21 May, 2024 @ 14:30
2 mins read

‘The Rock is not a tax haven’: Gibraltar hits back at ‘dehumanising’ Spanish politician’s ‘disgraceful’ drug smuggling and money laundering comments on the eve of a post-Brexit deal 

THE Government of Gibraltar has come out swinging after a Spanish politician called the Rock a ‘haven for drug traffickers and money launderers’.

It slammed the comments of Partido Popular (PP) spokesman Esteban González Pons as ‘dehumanising’ and an ‘incitement to hatred’, adding that the Rock is ‘an economic benefit to Spain and not a drain’. 

The spat comes as anticipation of a post-Brexit deal for Gibraltar reaches an all-time high, with some forecasts predicting it could be announced as soon as the first week of June.

But the negotiations are not all plain sailing, with dissenting voices in the Junta de Andalucia and the PP, Spain’s opposition party, threatening to rock the boat.

READ MORE: Gibraltar post-Brexit deal hopes dashed in latest summit: Spanish FM says there are ‘no insurmountable obstacles’ but Andalucia blames ‘tax haven’ Gibraltar for ‘degrading’ the Campo’s economy

Partido Popular (PP) spokesman Esteban González Pon slammed Gibraltar on the eve of a post-Brexit deal

Pons echoed comments from the Junta when he called the Rock a ‘tax haven whose wealth is born from the poverty of the rest of the region’, before adding: “It is a refuge for drug traffickers and money laundering.”

In typical PP fashion, Pons also called Brexit a ‘unique opportunity to reclaim sovereignty and put Gibraltar in its place’.

But the Gibraltar government rejected Andalucian accusations that it was somehow parasitical on the economy of the Campo, calling the Rock ‘an economic benefit to Spain and not a drain’.

It said in a statement: “Gibraltar accounts for 25% of the GDP of the Campo de Gibraltar and, as a whole, is the second largest employer for the neighbouring region of Andalucía.”

“There are 15,000 people who live in Spain and work in Gibraltar, including some 10,000 Spanish nationals.

“Gibraltar purchases some €1 BILLION a year in goods and services from Spain, making it export market number 41 for Spanish industry, out of a possible 222 territories.

“The latest impact study suggests that residents of Gibraltar spend over €80 million a year shopping, buying foodstuffs and other goods and services in the Andalucía region.

“Gibraltar residents with a second home in Spain spend over €70 million annually in the neighbouring country.”

READ MORE: Brexit deal latest: Many complex hurdles for Fabian Picardo to overcome as UK fears losing sovereignty and Spain worries ‘tax haven’ Gibraltar will ‘colonise’ el Campo

The government of Gibraltar claimed it was a net economic benefit to Andalucia

The government also added that it paid the wages of all Spanish and Spanish resident workers on the Rock who were not able to work during Covid, and also offered vaccines to all cross-frontier workers

“This collaboration and cooperation is the reality of the relationship between Gibraltar and the Campo, and not the misleading and negative view that Mr Pons has today used to mislead his fellow Spaniards in trying to prejudice them against the people of Gibraltar.”

Pons was also critical of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares for their lack of communication around the negotiations, stating: “[They] solve the problems by ignoring them.”

The Junta and various mayors in the Campo de Gibraltar have demanded Gibraltar change its tax regime as part of any deal.

However, due to the opacity of the negotiations, the Junta has been loudly airing its fears that the PSOE government will sell the region out.

The Gibraltar government denied it was a tax haven, stating: “The tax-exempt company was abolished in 2010.” 

“The European Commission itself approved the Gibraltar Income Tax Act 2010, showing it was an entirely proper tax regime in keeping with EU rules.”

Finally, the government rounded on the ‘absolutely disgraceful’ allegations that the Rock was a launching pad for the notorious drug traffickers who plague the Strait and the money launderers who clean their profits.

It pointed out that the model of narco boats used by the smugglers were outlawed in Gibraltar in 1995, yet are still in use in Spain. 

It has also banned the storage of petrol in containers meant for the supply of the narco launches – ‘something which remains legal across the border.’

Walter Finch

Walter - or Walt to most people - is a former and sometimes still photographer and filmmaker who likes to dig under the surface.
A NCTJ-trained journalist, he came to the Costa del Sol - Gibraltar hotspot from the Daily Mail in 2022 to report on organised crime, corruption, financial fraud and a little bit of whatever is going on.
Got a story? [email protected]

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