23/05/2012 Lanzarote (BG) - The Spanish National Court announced on Tuesday it had closed its investigation into the tax affairs of Emilio Botín, chairman of Banco Santander, Spain’s largest bank. Botín, Spain’s leading banking figure, along with 11 of his relatives, were the subject of a tax probe relating to allegations of tax evasion regarding an account opened by his late father, Emilio Botín Snr, in HSBC’s Swiss private bank.
The probe was based on a list of undeclared Swiss bank accounts sent to the Spanish tax authorities by their French counterparts. The account came to light in 2010 as French tax investigators were examining thousands of accounts leaked by a HSBC employee. The court heard Mr Botín, his brother Jamie and 10 of their children had satisfied the Spanish tax authorities with a voluntary €200m tax settlement in 2010, before the probe was launched last year.
Lawyers representing the Botín family welcomed the decision and in a statement, claimed the findings confirmed what they had said since the investigation began in June, 2011, that: “The family had voluntarily and completely regularised its tax obligations, which were, and are, all up to date”.
Emilio Botín Snr opened the bank account with HSBC in 1937 after he fled to London during the Spanish civil war. Botín Snr passed died in 1993 but lawyers representing Botín Jnr, and his family, claim he, and other heirs, only found out about the secret bank account two years ago when the list of HSBC account holders was revealed. A source close to the bank said no funds had been withdrawn from, or deposited to the bank account since the death of Botín Snr.
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