Sunday, May 16, 2021

Spain’s former King Juan Carlos faces new corruption probe over ‘secret credit cards’


Juan Carlos, Spain’s exiled and disgraced former king, is facing a corruption investigation in connection with credit cards linked to secret offshore accounts.

The country’s attorney-general issued a statement confirming that it had instructed supreme court prosecutors to investigate the allegations hours after, an online newspaper, reported a state investigation into the alleged use of credit cards linked to foreign accounts by Juan Carlos, his wife, Sofía, and unnamed family members.

Spain’s highest court opened an investigation in June into whether the former king had received millions of dollars of illegal payments in connection with a high-speed train contract in Saudi Arabia in 2011.

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The general prosecutor of the supreme court will determine whether Juan Carlos, 82, can be included in the corruption case, given that he was protected by immunity until June 2014 when he abdicated in favour of his son, Felipe VI, after a series of scandals. However, according to the eldiario report, the new investigation is looking at allegations dating from after his abdication.

The credit cards, which were used from 2016 to 2018, were linked to accounts not held in the names of members of the royal family, it claims. The report alleges that among the funds under investigation are expenses related to Sofía’s trips to London.

The report added that the cards were not used by King Felipe, Queen Letizia or their children, the princesses Leonor and Sofía.

The first investigation was opened after an inquiry led by the country’s anti-corruption prosecutor into a €6.7 billion high-speed railway linking the cities of Medina and Mecca in Saudi Arabia, which was built by a group of Spanish companies. In 2018 it was alleged that Juan Carlos had asked for a share of a secret €80 million payment made by Spanish businesses to win the deal.

This year the Swiss newspaper La Tribune de Genève claimed that in 2008 Juan Carlos received $100 million (€65 million at the exchange rate at the time) from the Saudi king and that he gave €65 million to Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, his former lover, in 2012.

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Ms Sayn-Wittgenstein, 55, who had an affair with Juan Carlos from 2004 to 2009, is under investigation for money-laundering in Switzerland. Her lawyers deny any wrongdoing on her behalf, and say the money was a gift from the king.

According to the online newspaper El Confidencial, the state prosecutor has concluded that Juan Carlos,who has lived in Abu Dhabi since August, will not face charges over the high-speed contract because the constitution confers immunity to a reigning monarch.

The Times has approached the royal palace but it declined to comment.

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