Spanish Minister Resigns Saying Sanchez Will Turn Page on Graft

(Bloomberg) -- Spanish Culture Minister Maxim Huerta resigned following reports he’d been sanctioned for tax fraud.

In a televised statement in Madrid Wednesday, Huerta said he’d paid a fine to the Spanish tax authorities after an inspection found he’d breached the rules by billing media clients through a limited company from 2006 to 2008. He said the tax rules had been changed retroactively and that the matter had only gone to court because he challenged the decision.

“I have taken a very important decision by myself and thinking of the things I most believe in -- culture and transparency,” he said. “I do it knowing I am absolutely innocent.”

Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez took power at the start of the month after uniting disparate factions in Parliament to bring down former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in a no-confidence vote. Sanchez rallied the opposition forces amid a public outcry after the National Court convicted former officials from Rajoy’s People’s Party for corruption.

Huerta said that his resignation should be considered an indication that the new government had a different attitude to transparency and political responsibility.

Earlier on Wednesday he told Cadena Ser radio that he had paid all his tax obligations and that the issue had come about due to a change in the rules. He said the practice was common among journalists and broadcasters during the period and accused the PP government of conducting a witch hunt against its opponents in the arts and the media.

After less than a fortnight in office, Sanchez has already attracted headlines for naming the country’s first mainly female cabinet and offering shelter to a boatload of migrants turned away from Sicily by the populist administration in Rome. Now he’s faced his first scandal.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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