Spain's deputy prime minister under fire for Iran's €9m for TV producer

A total of 67 payments funded left-wing politics in the European country

epa08559738 Spanish Second Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias attends a Government Question Time Session held in the framework of a plenary session at Congress of Deputies in Madrid, Spain, 22 July 2020. The MPs debate and vote the final report of the Commission for Social and Economic Reconstruction that will lay the foundations of measures for mitigating the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.  EPA/CHEMA MOYA
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Iran bankrolled a Spanish television production company to the tune of 9.3 million euros (Dh 39.6m) as it supported the rise of the leftist political agitator Pablo Iglesias, who is now the country's deputy prime minister.

A leaked report from the money laundering unit of Spain's fiscal crime police said the 67 payments by Iran to 360 Media were made as a vehicle to provide support for Mr Iglesias and populist and anti-colonialist videos.

Over a period between 2013 to 2015, the production house made 23 payments to Mr Iglesias as he built his anti-establishment credentials and worked to create the Podemos political party, which is a junior member of the Spanish government.

Spain's left-wing leadership has tacked closer to Iran and issued statements that oppose pressure on Tehran for its nuclear and other policy stances.

Challenged in the Spanish parliament over allegations that he failed to draw a distinction between personal and party affairs, Mr Iglesias rejected the accusations by conservative senator, María Salon. "You have accused me of several crimes here," he said. "It is reasonable that you go to court to see if this time they can find something. The allegations have been investigated and there is nothing murky to find on us."

The police report chronicled documentation within the 360 company stating that the Iranian Government was paying for the "operation, promotion, advertising and maintenance of Podemos", according to a report in the mainstream Spanish newspaper El Pais on Thursday.

Iranian-backed television ran Mr Iglesias' video talk shown series Fort Apache on its Spanish language satellite channels. Hispan TV was controlled by an Iranian businessman but financed by the Iranian government. While the paperwork made clear 15 per cent of the payments would pay for production costs, the rest of the sales proceeds were pay outs on invoices for individuals, including Mr Iglesias, El Pais reported.

Iran has a history of using overseas channels to bolster the position of sympathetic politicians. Most notoriously the British-based Press TV was banned by the regulator Ofcom after repeated infringement of rules on balance and impartiality. It ran programmes presented by George Galloway, the far-Left former Labour MP.

The Spanish leak came from Sepblac (Executive Service of the Commission for Money Laundering and Monetary Offences) of the Central Unit for Economic and Fiscal Crime (Udef) of the National Police.

While sharing a world view on international big power politics, Mr Iglesias and Tehran are also supporters of the Venezuelan government, which is a revolutionary junta.