07/12/2020

Stranglehold on Juan Carlos I tightens

2 min
De Botswana  al paradís fiscal:  el declivi de Joan Carles I

BarcelonaThe 42nd anniversary of the Spanish Constitution was marked by an unusual event: the news that the King Emeritus had presented, through his lawyers, a tax return to the Treasury to try to regularise his situation regarding expenses paid for with opaque cards. This is the first time that Juan Carlos I, who fled to Abu Dhabi four months ago, admits that he has not paid all the taxes that were due. Now the Treasury will study the letter and decide what to do, whether to accept the proposal, reject it or ask for more information.

Nevertheless, the use of opaque cards is one of the least important of all the cases under investigation against Juan Carlos, whether by the Swiss prosecutor Yves Bertossa, the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office or the Supreme Court Prosecutor's Office. This manoeuvre would therefore be an attempt to stop the legal case that would be most likely to succeed more quickly. And secondly, and not least, this case involves other members of the royal house, such as Queen Sofia, and investigators are looking into whether the current king, Philip VI, and Queen Letizia would have used them as well. Juan Carlos I's lawyers believe that if they manage to close this case with an agreement with the Treasury, Felipe VI will be unharmed.

However, what is increasingly evident is that the stranglehold on King Juan Carlos I, who left Spain with the idea of a relatively quick return, is becoming tighter and tighter. It is now increasingly difficult for him to return except to be questioned by a judge. His strategy is clear: delay the investigations as much as possible and find the legal loopholes to avoid them. Let's remember that he cannot be brought to court for anything he did before abdicating in 2014, since as king he was inviolable. What is particularly scandalous is that he continued his allegedly irregular activities after this date.

It is likely, therefore, that Juan Carlos I will end up facing some criminal responsibility for his activities, even if it is for the use of opaque cards, while his funds abroad remain shielded. What is no longer so clear is the impact that all this may end up having on Spanish public opinion and on the prestige of the monarchy, a key element of the so-called 78 regime. It will be very difficult for Philip VI to maintain the consensus that his father enjoyed almost until the end of his reign if there is not a radical change that goes beyond his separation from the ex King.

We must remember that the name of Philip VI, when he was still heir to the throne, appeared as the second beneficiary of the Lucum Foundation, created by Juan Carlos I in 2008 to collect a donation made to him by the Ministry of Finance of Saudi Arabia (and which is under investigation to ascertain whether it was in fact a commission for the high speed train to Mecca), money that finally went to Corinna Larsen. The current king made an explicit renunciation of this money, but it is doubtful that this will be enough. Even more so if, one day, his father has to set foot in a Spanish court of law.

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