Prosecutor alleges ex-king charged international commissions

The defence of Juan Carlos I criticises the "violation of the presumption of innocence"

3 min
King Joan Carles I, in an archive photo, before going into exile in the United Arab Emirates

BarcelonaThe Supreme Court Prosecutor's Office considers that the ex-king Juan Carlos I charged "commissions and other similar benefits" through his "intermediation in international business dealings", according to the daily newspaper El Mundo. The newspaper has had access to the rogatory commission that delivered the lieutenant prosecutor Juan Ignacio Campos to the Swiss authorities, who in turn maintain an investigation into the Zagatka foundation, created by the cousin of the ex-king, Álvaro de Orleans-Borbón, who paid him expenses for private flights.

In the letter, in which in February he asked the Federal Office of Justice of Switzerland to send him information of all the accounts in the country of the Zagatka foundation between 2016 and 2019, the public ministry refers to the money that Juan Carlos I has kept hidden for decades in tax havens. Campos ensures that there are "indications that the funds under investigation" have an illicit origin, and points to possible crimes of "money laundering, against the public finances, fraud and influence peddling".

As the newspaper states, the Public Prosecutor's Office recalls in its written statement that it is conducting an investigation into possible "acts of concealment, transformation, transmission, conversion and/or possession of funds" controlled by "Juan Carlos de Borbón y Borbón, a person with immunity before the Supreme Court", and that it wants to clarify the "origin" of the money not declared to the Treasury, as well as the "participation" in operations with these funds by the ex-king, who has been in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) since he fled Spain a year ago amid the controversy over his alleged irregular business dealings, and specifically the collection of 65 million euros for alleged commissions for the works of the Mecca AVE, an amount that in 2012 he gave to Corinna Larsen. The Supreme Prosecutor's Office has been investigating the facts since 2014, when he abdicated and, therefore, ceased to be inviolable.

The publication comes on the same day that the attorney general, Dolores Delgado, meets with Felipe VI to present him with the annual report of the Public Prosecutor's Office, which will be released on Monday. The Public Prosecutor's Office has responded with a statement in which it stresses that the request for assistance to any other country "necessarily requires detailing all the evidence of criminality available", but the letter is not comparable to an "opinion, request for prosecution or conclusions of the Prosecutor". "It will be precisely the content of the reply given by the requested authority to the corresponding rogatory commission that will allow the prosecutor to confirm or rule out these indications, or even to open other avenues of investigation", it points out.

The Supreme Court Prosecutor's Office has not been the only one to comment on the information published in the newspaper El Mundo. The defence of the ex-king has issued a statement denouncing the leaking of the rogatory commission and denouncing that bringing it to public opinion is a "clear violation of the principle of presumption of innocence". The defence underlines that "some assessments and considerations are being passed on that seriously damage H.M. King Juan Carlos, who has been under investigation by the Prosecutor's Office for more than a year". Furthermore, they maintain that the "serious assertions and imputations of conduct" made in the published information have "no basis whatsoever and lack the slightest justification, and are contradicted by other facts about which nothing is said".

48 hours before the second regularisation with the Treasury

In the statement, Juan Carlos's defence emphasises that the request for legal assistance from the Public Prosecutor's Office to Switzerland is not public, so that only the receiving and addressee authorities should be aware of it. "The proceedings are confidential", they point out, "and we are not aware that they have been communicated anywhere". Even so, 48 hours after this rogatory commission, which is dated 24 February, the ex-king's legal services made a second regularisation with the Treasury for a value of 4.4 million euros.

The Tax Agency is inspecting the ex-king's accounts and, as revealed by El País, sent two requests to the King's Household to provide all the payments made to Juan Carlos I from June 2014 to 2018. "When a regularisation takes place, the Tax Agency checks that it is complete and truthful", the Ministry of Finance simply informs. According to the aforementioned newspaper, Zarzuela officials have already sent all the information requested, as the paying entity for the allocation of the State budget that the ex-king received until Felipe VI withdrew it.