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Spain Is Having Some Trouble Fighting Corruption

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is due to take the stand in the 'Gurtel' case in July. OSCAR DEL POZO AFP/Getty Images

Draining the swamp is never easy.

The man in charge of investigating graft investigations among Spain’s political elite, state attorney Manuel Moix, resigned Thursday after revelations that he held a stake in an offshore holding company in Panama. Moix confirmed on Wednesday that he had a 25 percent stake in an offshore company, Reuters reports, which he shared with his siblings and had inherited from his father. He denied any wrongdoing and said the arrangement is legal. Spain’s public prosecutor Jose Manuel Maza, who announced the anti-corruption chief’s resignation, also defended Moix’s actions.

All the same, the news played badly in a country where anger about political corruption is still high. Corrupt dealings between politicians and local bankers had been at the heart of Spain’s financial crisis six years ago, when it was forced to ask the Eurozone and International Monetary Fund for a $100 billion bailout of its banking system.

Spain’s economy contracted sharply under the effects of the bailout but has rebounded strongly since, and is now the fastest-growing economy in the European Union.

Moix’s performance since his appointment in February had already been controversial enough, with opposition parties accusing him of pulling punches in his investigations of members of the ruling Partido Popular. Several Spanish newspapers reported in April that Moix had tried to hinder a probe, still at the pre-trial stage, which involved the PP’s Madrid branch.

Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, is due to testify himself in a major graft trial involving members of his party in late July. Rajoy isn’t accused of any wrongdoing, but it’s the first time a serving Spanish Prime Minister has taken the stand in modern times. The so-called “Gurtel Case” involves 37 defendants, including two former treasurers of the PP.