Thursday, October 29, 2020

Spain’s king renounces inheritance over father’s link to secret offshore fund

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Spain’s King Felipe VI has renounced his personal inheritance from his father and stripped the former king Juan Carlos of his annual stipend after it was alleged that Felipe VI was poised to receive millions of euros from a secret offshore fund with ties to Saudi Arabia.

The statement issued by Spain’s royal household on Sunday evening came after a report named King Felipe as a beneficiary of an offshore fund set up by his father in 2008. At the time, Juan Carlos was still in power.

The former head of state abdicated in 2014, after a series of scandals sent his popularity plummeting. Juan Carlos, 82, had continued to receive an annual stipend from the state, however, amounting to around €194,000 (£175,000) in 2018.

The alleged offshore account, named as the Lucum Foundation, held around €65m in funds that were described as a “donation” from “the king of Saudi Arabia”, according to the Sunday Telegraph. The account was set up at an office in Panama city and tied to an account with Geneva’s Mirabaud private bank, the report added.

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An investigation by Swiss prosecutors into another offshore fund allegedly tied to Juan Carlos, named Fondation Zagatka, sparked calls this month for Spain’s parliament to investigate the business dealings of the former king. The push was rejected by Spain’s Socialists and the two main parties on the right, who argued that any such probe would be unconstitutional.

According to newspaper La Tribune de Genève, prosecutors believe the fund could be linked to kickback payments after the former monarch helped to broker business deals with Saudi Arabia while in power.

On Sunday, the statement by the Royal household noted that King Felipe became aware last year of claims that he was the beneficiary of the Lucum Foundation and subsequently swore before a notary public that he had told his father that he was renouncing any benefit from the fund. King Felipe denied any knowledge of being a beneficiary of the Zagatka fund.

Neither King Felipe nor his household had any knowledge, participation or responsibility in the alleged events, the statement noted. The statement also includes a note from the former king, stating that he had never told his son that he was the beneficiary of the two funds.

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The former king had been informed of his son’s decision to renounce his inheritance as well as “any asset, investment or financial structure whose origin, characteristic or purpose may not be in accordance with the law or with the rectitude and integrity” of the crown, the statement added.

Since taking the throne, Felipe has fought hard to regain the royal family’s footing and move past the calls for a referendum on the monarchy that greeted his proclamation. The task was made more difficult after his sister, the Infanta Cristina, was caught up in a financial scandal involving her husband, the former Olympic handball player Iñaki Urdangarín.

Original article on theguardian.com

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