Spanish princess in corruption inquiry
Summons issued to Cristina, youngest daughter of King Juan Carlos, on suspicion of tax fraud and money laundering
Spain’s Infanta Cristina will appear in court in March charged with tax fraud and money laundering. Photograph: Daniel Aguilar/ Reuters
The daughter of King Juan Carlos has been officially named as suspect in a corruption investigation into her husband’s business dealings, deepening the Spanish monarchy’s credibility crisis.
Investigating judge José Castro issued a summons yesterday for Princess Cristina (48), the king’s younger daughter, to appear in court in Palma, Mallorca, on March 8th, under suspicion of having committed tax fraud and money laundering.
Conviction on such charges can result in prison sentences of up to five and six years respectively.
The magistrate believes he has enough evidence for the princess to be questioned about the business dealings of her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, who is accused, along with his former business partner, Diego Torres, of siphoning off millions of euro of public funds from the Nóos charity into private bank accounts.
The princess is appealing against the decision but if she testifies in court she will be the first direct member of the Spanish monarchy to do so.
The judge has based his decision on a 227-page report he has compiled over the past nine months. Although the document does not assert that the princess masterminded the alleged scam in which her husband was allegedly involved, it suggests she must have known about and possibly abetted his activities.
While she had “the attitude of someone who looks the other way”, the report said, it would have been difficult for a person in her position not to have been aware of what was going on.
The judge is particularly interested in Aizoon, a company set up by the royal couple that he believes acted as a front for laundering money and cheating tax authorities.
To support his suspicions he listed a catalogue of personal items and activities that Aizoon paid for, including expensive ceramics, merengue dance classes and decorations for cocktail parties and children’s birthday parties.
‘Actively taken part’
“Given that everything indicates that Doña Cristina de Borbón must have actively taken part . . . in the organisation and budgeting of these events of an unarguably personal nature, if she did not pay for them out of her own pocket and knew that nor did her husband, it cannot have escaped her attention that they were paid for by the business entity in which both participated,” the report said.
This is the second time the princess has faced such a procedure. In April 2013 she was summonsed to testify in the same case, but the anti-corruption attorney’s office blocked the appearance via appeal, citing a lack of evidence.
The judicial authorities have been deeply divided over how to handle the case, due in great part, it seems, to the political and other implications of putting the king’s daughter on trial.
In mid-December the state anti-corruption attorney, Pedro Horrach, appeared to pre-empt yesterday’s decision by issuing a harsh criticism of Judge Castro’s pursuit of the case.
“It is a basic principle of penal law that you do not name someone as a suspect or punish them due to who they are, but rather for what they have done,” Mr Horrach wrote in a report.