AMANCIO ORTEGA, the richest man in Spain, has come under fire following allegations of tax avoidance after donating €320m in state-of-the-art equipment to hospitals nationwide.
In a statement released by Luisa Lores, spokeswoman for the Federation of Associations for the Defence of Public Health Services, she said that Ortega should “not be demonstrating his philanthropy but his desire to contribute to public finances in proportion to his profits.”
Lores believes that the charitable contribution was just “a way to avoid paying taxes” with a part of the donation being tax deductable.
Tina Fuertes, a cancer patient, told Spanish television that “I need to live, and there are thousands of people like me struggling with the fight against cancer.
“We get up every day with side effects, trying to force a smile while we fight for our lives,” she continued, commenting on the criticism “I don’t understand these allegations, they make no sense.”
Far-left head of the Podemos Party, Pablo Inglesias, has also hit out at Zara boss accusing him of remarketing his tax avoidance in a way which gains public support. He reinforced Lores’ criticism saying that “philanthropy should be seen as a means to finance public health” in Spain, “not as a mechanism to avoid paying taxes.”
The donation accounts for eight per cent of last year’s public health budget in Spain, where more than 200,000 cancer patients were diagnosed, according to Ortega’s foundation.
Hospitals in the south of Andalucia have already received the equipment.
The foundation has told Spanish news companies that despite allegations, they will continue to implement the programme in other hospitals.