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Spanish Court Ends Tax-Fraud Case Against Botin Banker Family

A Spanish court ended a tax-fraud investigation into undeclared Swiss funds belonging to members of the Botin family, who have helped run Banco Santander SA for a century, after they paid the money they owed.

Santander Chairman Emilio Botin, his brother Jaime and 10 of their children resolved their situation in a way “that can be considered correct and true,” according to the ruling, signed by Judge Fernando Andreu Merelles, which was sent by the National Court today via e-mail.

The court said last June it would investigate the Botins after details of hidden funds at HSBC Holdings Plc’s Swiss private bank were passed to Spanish tax authorities by France. The case attracted attention because of the family’s prominence. Botin family members have held management roles at the country’s biggest bank since at least 1895.

“The full dismissal of this case by the National High Court judge, at the request of the Public Prosecutor and the State Attorney, confirm what we said when the case was opened in June 2011: that the family had voluntarily and completely regularized its tax obligations, which were and are all up to date,” Botin family representatives Jesus Ramon and Rafael Mateus de Ros of the Madrid law firm Uria Menendez said in an e-mailed statement distributed by the bank today.

When the court announced the probe in June last year, the Botin family said in a statement distributed by Santander that it had put its tax affairs in order “voluntarily.” Ana Patricia Botin, Botin’s eldest daughter and the head of the bank’s U.K. arm, was among the family members under investigation.

Emilio Botin’s father took money to Switzerland when he was forced to leave Spain in 1936 after the outbreak of the country’s civil war, Efe newswire reported on June 16 last year, citing people close to the family it didn’t identify. Family members have paid a combined 200 million euros ($255 million) to put their tax affairs in order, Efe said at the time.

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