The Prosecutor’s Office suspects that Fernando Ramírez de Haro, Esperanza Aguirre’s husband, was able to avoid paying taxes for the Goya painting that the couple sold in 2012 to businessman Juan Miguel Villar Mir for more than five million euros. The Public Ministry has asked the judge who is investigating this operation to claim the 2013 Ramírez de Haro income statement which, in addition to determining the possible tax offense, will clarify whether that statement was made jointly with the former Madrid president, which also appears as a defendant in this case because it participated in the sale of the painting.
A Goya for Canalejas, the crossed interests of Esperanza Aguirre and Villar Mir
The report of the Prosecutor’s Office, to which elDiario.es has had access, affirms that if Ramírez de Haro did not declare the sale of the painting in 2013, he would have defrauded the Public Treasury more than 600,000 euros. That “would lead to the application of the aggravated subtype provided for in article 305 bis of the Penal Code”; that is, a tax offense punishable by between two and six years in prison. Therefore, the prosecutor in the case asks the judge to claim that income statement from the Tax Agency.
The case investigated by the Court of Instruction number 26 of Madrid starts from the complaint of Íñigo Ramírez de Haro, Fernando’s brother, and that maintains that the latter appropriated a painting by Goya that belonged to the family, sold it on his own without distributing the benefits among the six brothers and did not pay tribute for it. The sale took place when Esperanza Aguirre was president of the Community of Madrid, the competent administration to protect the painting as an Asset of Cultural Interest, which she did not do.
The painting is a portrait of Valentín Belvís de Moncada y Pizarro, Marquis of Villanueva del Duero and one of the ancestors of the aristocratic political family of Esperanza Aguirre. The painting was inherited within the Ramírez de Haro family: Ignacio, the father-in-law of the former Madrid president, wore it in his living room, although without knowing its true value. Ignacio Ramírez de Haro died in 2010 at the age of 92 and that is when the family dispute arises that is now being settled in the courts.
The painting should have been part of Ignacio’s inheritance to his children, but it was not. Fernando Ramírez de Haro kept it for himself. In 2012 he appeared at a notary where he signed a statement in which he assured that his father had exclusively donated that work to him. There was no documentation to support this claim: it was a “verbal donation” that included Goya’s painting, some fifty paintings, and other antiques. His father could not deny the version; he had died a year and a half before.
Íñigo, Fernando’s brother and Aguirre’s brother-in-law, denounced before the courts that this alleged donation was false, a ruse to get hold of the Goya –and the rest of the antiques– and then sell it. And so it was: a month later, the auction company Sotheby’s reported the important value of the painting, confirmed that its author had been Francisco de Goya, that it was an unpublished work and that its value was around seven million euros. A few months later, businessman Juan Miguel Villar Mir paid 5,115,600 euros for him.
Aguirre’s brother-in-law defends that his father’s verbal donation to his brother never took place and that the family agreement consisted of selling the painting to distribute the benefits among the heirs when his mother died. He assures that his brother tried to pass off the donation as real by reporting before a notary that it took place on May 30, 2006, the day of San Fernando, to give the appearance that it was a gift for his saint. Íñigo maintains that his brother, in that operation to seize the painting and sell it, committed a tax crime by not declaring the donation and avoiding paying for it.
The Prosecutor’s Office, however, believes that the tax offense could have occurred in the sale. In 2012 Villar Mir, the businessman who owns OHL and immersed in an urban operation with the Community of Madrid, buys the painting for more than five million euros. At that time, Fernando Ramírez de Haro was on the verge of bankruptcy, a situation that affected Aguirre herself due to her marriage under a community property regime. The check for five million euros was deposited into an account owned by both, as revealed by elDiario.es.
Prosecutor María López Orejas maintains in her brief that, if, as is clear from the complaint, Fernando Ramírez de Haro did not include that sale in his 2013 personal income tax return, there was indeed a tax offense punishable by jail. And that is why he has asked the judge to demand that statement from the Tax Agency, something that the magistrate will have to decide in the coming weeks. The defense of Aguirre’s brother-in-law maintains that this statement will make it possible to know if it was made jointly with the former president of Madrid, and will determine their participation in the events.
Thus, this avenue of investigation will determine who is right and if there has been a tax violation with Goya’s painting. Aguirre’s husband maintains that it was all legal: there was a donation of a painting of five million euros, and when he sold it for that amount, his assets did not suffer variation so he had nothing to declare.
The defense of his brother Íñigo believes, on the contrary, that the donation of 2006 was false, and they are based on the fact that in a 2008 will signed by the father of both, he states that the painting continues to be his property and is hanging in your living room. The lawyers believe that either there was a crime in the donation, for not declaring it then, or there was a crime in the 2013 personal income tax return.
The Prosecutor’s Office rejects the rest of the proceedings
The prosecutor’s report, however, rejects the other avenues of investigation in which Aguirre’s brother-in-law had asked to deepen. Íñigo Ramírez de Haro initially filed a complaint for the division and liquidation of his father’s inheritance, but in the process other signs of crime have appeared that he has asked to investigate. Except for the prosecutor, the Public Ministry refuses to delve into the rest.
For example, Íñigo Ramírez de Haro had asked to investigate his brother Fernando for the corporate crime and unfair administration, money laundering, fraudulent bankruptcy and the uprising of assets. He associates them all with his role as sole administrator of the Salvias and Ganadera Borno family businesses. He claims that he imposed “abusive agreements” to his detriment and was left with agricultural subsidies from the European Union. He adds that he depatrimonialized the family society.
Regarding the sale of the painting, in addition to tax fraud, Íñigo Ramírez de Haro maintains that there were patrimonial crimes and falsehoods. The Prosecutor’s Office does not enter into assessing whether or not there is a crime in the sale of the painting and the administration of the companies, it limits itself to saying that it cannot access the investigation proceedings for a simple reason: Íñigo and Fernando are brothers. The law says that “siblings by nature or adoption” cannot bring criminal actions against each other.
Thus, the Prosecutor’s Office maintains that Íñigo is not “legitimated” to go against his brother for these crimes, but for tax fraud, which is a public crime, therefore, it supports investigating the personal income tax declaration of Esperanza Aguirre’s husband .