Thursday, March 17, 2005

Caruana denies Pumpido allegations on Radio Nacional

As investigations into the Marbella money laundering case continued yesterday with Costa bankers being interviewed, Chief Minister Peter Caruana responded to accusations from the Spanish Attorney General Candido Conde-Pumpido who said Gibraltar “is not cooperating in the fight against money laundering.”

Speaking on Radio Nacional Mr Caruana said that Gibraltar was subject to “spoonfuls of disinformation” given to Spanish public opinion and said it was false to say that Gibraltar has “financial pecularities” although he accepted that Gibraltar, like many other finance centres, offers favourable taxation.

He stressed that the EU had not accused Gibraltar of non-cooperation on money laundering but, on the contrary, the IMF and other international bodies had accepted Gibraltar maintains international standards in this respect. Gibraltar complies with all petitions received from Spain in the proper legal form, he said.

Mr Caruana pointed to the record on dealing with such requests and wondered how anyone at a high level could make such accusations. He said that if the remarks attributed to the Spanish Attorney General were made by him these are false.

He had no news of Gibraltar being linked to the Marbella case but said it is possible that a Gibraltar company could be involved and if this is so any formal request will be attended.

Mr Caruana said that if Gibraltar did not exist it would have to be invented so as to blame someone. And he gave the example of the shooting near Puerto Banus recently where it seemed that the only interest was to try and find a Gibraltar link rather than focus on the problems that are in Spain itself.

Mr Caruana denied claims that there were any more than 26,000 companies registered in Gibraltar. He said that the situation seemed to be that Gibraltar was always the subject of abuse designed to create a false image of the Rock.

Only 6,000 companies have a special tax status and Gibraltar is one of the smallest finance centres pointing to Luxembourg and other such EU centres, Mr Caruana told the radio station.

Sr Conde-Pumpido had told Punto Radio, stressing that “political action” was needed to crack down on tax havens such as Gibraltar, a British possession on Spain’s Mediterranean south coast.

“There is no sense in the existence of enclaves which serve as a platform for laundering,” Conde-Pumpido said.

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