MADRID – Another blow to the Spanish royal family – this time corruption. The Spanish emeritus king Juan Carlos has been under fire for various alleged fiscal disturbances. This time, he is said to have enriched himself through ‘commissions’.
For the first time, this is stated in an official document that concludes the former head of state did this through “committees” for his “mediation in international business matters”. This is what the letters rogatory for Switzerland says seven years after Juan Carlos I abdicated the Spanish throne and three years after the preliminary investigation of the Spanish prosecutor’s office began.
For years rumours circulated that influenced Juan Carlos I, his son the Spanish king, and the Spanish monarchy. Those rumours centered on a fortune the emeritus king forged as an intermediary over decades. Never before has a suspicion been officially published. However, a Supreme Court prosecutor is collecting evidence about how the former head of state amassed some of his wealth.
Juan Carlos’ alleged role as a facilitator of tenders in exchange for commissions was made clear when Supreme Court Attorney Juan Ignacio Campos sent a request for information to Swiss authorities last February. That was about a year after the revelation that began to crack the reputation of the emeritus king.
High Speed Train Mecca
On March 3, 2020, a Swiss newspaper published that Geneva prosecutor Yves Bertossa was investigating a $65 million donation by Saudi Arabia in 2008 to Juan Carlos I as a commission for his efforts in awarding the works of the AVE high-speed train connection to Mecca.
The monarch appealed to “exemplary” public office in the Christmas speeches of 2011 and 2013. But in the midst of the post-crisis austerity era, he reportedly hid money resulting from corruption in tax havens.
Four possible crimes
The letters rogatory sent to Switzerland by the Supreme Court prosecutor sites four possible crimes committed by Juan Carlos I. These are listed as tax, money laundering, bribery, and influence. El Mundo revealed the contents of the report on Thursday evening. On Friday, the Public Prosecutor’s Office released a note seeking to reduce the commotion caused by disclosing the document´s contents.
The prosecution considered it “necessary to remember” that any request for legal assistance at the international level “must necessarily set out in detail all available evidence of crime”. And that it should also be accompanied by “an initial and preliminary legal qualification of the facts”.
The Spanish Public Prosecutor’s Office collected indications in a year that Juan Carlos I was awarded a prize for his intervention in major tenders around the world for Spanish companies. However, this activity presumably continued after the abdication of the monarch and thus when he was no longer inviolable.
Therefore, his actions can be translated into the four corruption offenses mentioned in the letters rogatory and on the basis of which Switzerland sent the required documentation.
€1.7million in a briefcase
According to his own tax adviser Arturo Fasana, Juan Carlos I personally brought a briefcase containing €1.7million to one of the banks in Geneva.
The same sources downplay the allusion to “commissions and international business,” as the anti-corruption prosecutor, since opening investigations three years ago, has already alluded to an alleged crime of international bribery, which would involve all the collection of commissions.
However, Anti-Corruption then insisted it was not investigating the monarch for whom it had no powers. But rather, it was reviewing the case of the AVE to Mecca.
Anti-corruption then ruled that an investigation line had to be rescued from that file, a possible crime of corruption in international transactions, without being able to designate King Juan Carlos at the time, partly because the monarch enjoyed immunity in 2008.
Also on another point, the investigation of the emeritus king differs from each other because of these possible crimes. The investigations into the monarch have been going on for three years. So far, without this leading to a file or a complaint to the Chamber of the Supreme Court. This is the judicial body that has been dealing with the emeritus king since his abdication. Meanwhile, preliminary investigations have moved from anti-corruption, with no jurisdiction to investigate the monarch, to the Supreme Court prosecutor’s office. And it has gone from one line of research to three. Including spending with ‘black’ credit cards, revealed by the newspaper elDiario.es in November 2020. A further line of research concerns the possible relationship of the monarch with €10million in a Jersey bank account.
To this must be added the two regularisations of taxes by Juan Carlos I. This could be seen as a kind of confession and with which he wanted to avoid the opening of an inspection by the Spanish tax authorities or a complaint from the prosecutor’s office. These two regularisations have led to a recovery of more than €5million by the State. Furthermore, the origin of which is also unclear.
The rumour about his role as a recipient of the yet-to-be-tried lawsuit also led to his departure from Spain.
Juan Carlos I has been living in the United Arab Emirates since the summer of 2020. The succession of scandals prevents him from returning to Spain, a deep wish of the former monarch.