Former king of Spain leaves country amid financial scandal

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MADRID – Former Spanish monarch Juan Carlos I is leaving Spain to live in another, unspecified country amid a financial scandal, according to a letter posted on the Royal Family’s website on Monday. Juan Carlos’ letter to his son, King Felipe VI, read: “I inform you of my considered decision to move, during this period, out of Spain. ”

Juan Carlos, in the letter, said he made the decision against the backdrop of “public repercussions of certain episodes in my past private life”.

He said he wanted to make sure he did not make the role of his son difficult, adding that “my heritage and my own dignity demand that it be so.” It is not known where Juan Carlos is currently located.

Spain’s prime minister recently said he found the developments concerning Juan Carlos – including the investigations in Spain and Switzerland – “disturbing”.

Since the Spanish Supreme Court opened its investigation earlier this year, Spanish media have published damaging testimony from a separate Swiss investigation into millions of euros (dollars) allegedly given to Juan Carlos by the late King Abdullah from Saudi Arabia.

Juan Carlos then allegedly transferred a large sum to a former companion in what investigators see as a possible attempt to hide the money from the authorities. The companion, Corinna Larsen, is a Danish-German businesswoman long linked by the Spanish media to the former king. Spanish prosecutors asked him to testify in the September case in Madrid.

The 82-year-old former king is credited with helping Spain peacefully restore democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

But marred by scandals in the last years of his reign, Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014 in favor of his son Felipe VI, losing the immunity from prosecution that the Spanish Constitution grants the head of state.

After media claimed that Felipe was a beneficiary of an offshore account holding an alleged gift of 65 million euros ($ 76 million) from Saudi Arabia to Juan Carlos, Felipe waived any future personal inheritance that he would have. ‘he could receive from the old king. Felipe also stripped his father of his annual allowance of 194,232 euros ($ 228,000).

The royal household denied that Felipe had any knowledge of his father’s alleged financial irregularities.

The royal website said in a statement that Felipe had respected his father’s decision.

Felipe recognized the historical significance of his father’s reign, the statement said, but also “reaffirmed the principles and values ​​on which it was based, within the framework of our Constitution and the rest of our legal system”.

A statement from Spain’s attorney general’s office in June said it was investigating whether Juan Carlos received millions of dollars in bribes from Saudi Arabia during the construction of a railway. at high speed by a Spanish consortium.

He called the probe “undeniable technical complexity”.

The Supreme Court’s investigation focuses on developments after mid-2014. This covers the second phase of the 2011 contract for the high-speed train between the Saudi cities of Medina and Mecca – the so-called “AVE from the desert” in reference to the acronym for high-speed trains in Spain.

The date marks the moment when Juan Carlos, struggling amid several scandals, passed the throne to his son after holding it for nearly four decades.

Although Juan Carlos’ finances have been in question in the Spanish media for years, there has so far been no legal implication for him. Spanish lawmakers have rejected at least two proposals since the first allegations of opening parliamentary inquiries.

The decision to leave Spain means Juan Carlos will leave the 17th-century Zarzuela Palace in Madrid, his home for more than 50 years. He moved there after marrying the former queen, Sofia, in 1963.

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