Former Dictatorship Official Dead at 92

( – One of the last members of Spain’s dictator regime under Francisco Franco has died at the age of 92.

Juan-Miguel Villar Mir was a builder by trade who became the first economics minister to serve King Juan Carlos. During his career, Villar Mir amassed more than $3 billion in personal wealth before losing almost all of it as his company collapsed under debt.

You might say public service ran in his family. Villar Mir’s father also served under Franco as a military commander. The younger Villar Mir went to university for law and engineering before joining the civil service in Spain during the 1950s. He climbed the ladder rapidly, becoming the head of the jobs department. During that period, a friend asked him to teach economics as a tutor to Juan Carlos, then the Prince of Spain. Juan Carlos went on to become king, and the two remained close for the rest of Villar Mir’s life.

The builder was very good at networking and establishing a network of contact, which led to corporate position. He headed up the Hidronitro power and chemicals firm before leading steel company Altos Hornos de Vizcaya. Villar Mir successfully put both companies back in black.

In the mid-1970s Villar Mir went back to civil service when then-Prime Minster Carlos Arias Navarro tapped him as the vice president for economic affairs under the King Juan Carlos government. Speaking then, Villar Mir said Spain’s economy was “most certainly bad.” He took actions including devaluing the peseta by 11 percentage points, and said he was going to decrease the deficit and rework the broken tax system, but he failed at these goals and left his government post after only 11 months on the job.

Villar Mir then took a university professorship while building an agriculture business privately. He became head of the power company Electra de Viesgo in 1983.

In 2016, he was questioned in court about alleged improprieties in how hospital construction contracts were awarded.

In his private life, Villar Mir was an enthusiastic golfer, a pianist, a sometime sailor, and a devoted Catholic who had a chapel erected on one of the corporate campuses where he worked.

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