The family behind Spain’s banking group Banco Santander has denied wrongdoing after being accused of alleged tax fraud by the country’s national court.
According to reports, Santander chairman Emilio Botin and his daughter Ana Patricia Botin are under investigation, along with 11 other family members, for potential unpaid taxes. The Spanish court said that the alleged tax fraud, to the tune of around €120,000, occurred at the Botin family’s deposits at HSBC’s Swiss private bank.
Following the allegations, the family responded by presenting the Spanish court with their tax declaration and said they have already paid around €200 million in back taxes between 2005 and 2009.
The tax fraud allegations don’t come at a good time for the Botin family – which has controlled Santander for the last 115 years – as it holds its annual general shareholders meeting on 17 June. The allegations could potentially upset family leadership at the helm of the company, but when contacted, a Santander spokesman refused to comment on how this would affect the meeting.
Emilio, a prominent figure in Spain, has been with the bank for the last 25 years and was instrumental in transforming it into Spain’s largest in terms of market capitalisation.
Though the Botin family only hold a 2% stake in the business, they have long been involved in the running of the bank. Seventy-six-year-old Emilio is the third family member to serve as chairman, succeeding his father Emilio Botin y Sanz de Sautuola in 1986.
Daughter Ana took over as chief executive of Santander UK in December last year, raising speculations that she may succeed her father as chairman of the banking operations. Currently in-charge of an IPO in the UK, experts say that if she is successful with the listing, it would further cement her eventual succession to the top job.
Banco Santander had revenues of over €40 billion in 2010.