politics

Spanish Minister's Tax Conviction Hands Sanchez First Big Test

Maxim Huerta Photographer: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who won a confidence motion by pledging to purge political corruption, is facing his first dilemma after it was reported that Culture Minister Maxim Huerta was convicted of tax fraud last year.

Huerta, a writer and television celebrity, was found to have evaded 218,322 euros ($256,462) from his previous work as a television presenter, El Confidencial reported Wednesday. The verdicts stemmed from a change in the criteria used by the tax authority, Huerta said in an interview with Cadena Ser radio. He didn’t challenge the facts reported by El Confidencial.

The Socialist leader Sanchez swept to power at the start of the month after lining up an alliance including Catalan separatists to topple former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy after a court handed down sentences in a long-running probe into corruption by former officials of the People’s Party. The questions about Huerta’s tax affairs are an embarrassment for Sanchez less than two weeks into his new government.

“I paid what was due and it’s a closed issue,” said Huerta in a Cadena Ser interview, without clarifying whether he mentioned the issue to Sanchez ahead of being appointed minister last week.

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