Judge handling Nóos case wants more information about Princess Cristina’s role
Subpoenas issued for deputy PP secretary general and king’s lawyer to testify
The judge investigating the alleged embezzlement of public money at the Nóos Institute has decided to look further into what decisions, if any, Princess Cristina made at her husband’s non-profit entity, where she served on the board.
Judge José Castro of the Balearics Islands has not subpoenaed Cristina but has called in 36 more witnesses to testify before him, including José Manuel Romero, the legal advisor to King Juan Carlos, and Esteban González Pons, the Popular Party’s deputy secretary general and deputy representing Valencia.
Anticorruption prosecutor Pedro Horrach asked Castro to summon González Pons because he had signed an agreement with Princess Cristina’s husband Iñaki Urdangarin to spearhead the effort to try to bring the European Games to Valencia when the PP official served as a regional commissioner. Valencia lost out on the bid.
Romero, who has the title the count of Fontao, will be asked what he knows about the king’s order in 2006 for Urdangarin to break all ties with the Nóos Institute, when reports of irregularities began to surface.
Diego Torres, Urdangarin’s former partner who is also targeted in the investigation, has released batches of emails that suggest that Urdangarin continued to do business with some Nóos officials up until 2007 – a year have the kings ordered him to cut his ties.
Urdangarin is being investigated for allegedly taking part in a public-money diversion scheme in which his non-profit Nóos Institute received more than five million euros in contracts from the Balearic Islands and Valencia regional governments to organize sports events and tourism conferences.
His wife served on the Nóos board until March 20, 2006, but she continued in private businesses she co-owned with her husband, including the Aizoon realty agency, which prosecutors believe was one of the entities where the public money was diverted.
Up until now, Judge Castro has said that there insufficient evidence to open an investigation into Cristina’s dealings at Nóos. But with this latest round of subpoenas, it appears that the investigating judge will probe further about her role at the now-defunct entity.
In his two appearances before Judge Castro in August and last month, Urdangarin maintained that neither his wife nor the royal family was involved in his business activities.
But the judge has also honed in on the princess’s private secretary Carlos García Revenga, who served on the board at the institute.
Initially, prosecutors said there was no cause to investigate Princess Cristina because they believed that the decision made at the Nóos Institute were done by a managing committee in which she played no part of. They also argued that Cristina didn’t have any managerial position at Aizoon even though she was co-owner of the real estate firm.
But Diego Torres’ emails given to the judge also suggest that the royal household knew of Urdangarin’s business activities. They also raise new doubts about his wife’s knowledge.
García Revenga, who served as treasurer of the board, has denied that the Zarzuela Palace was fully aware of Urdangarin's business dealings as Torres' defense team has maintained.
On February 23 during Urdangarin’s last appearance before the judge, Castro asked: “What duties did Doña Cristina de Bourbon have on that board [Nóos]?
"None whatsoever, he said. “She was a person I confided in who provided transparency in the way things were operated."
When Castro said that he didn’t need the princess at Nóos for things to appear transparent, Urdangarin explained that he needed to fill five seats on the board and she was given one.
In September 2003, Nóos announced its board of directors consisted of Urdangarin as president; Torres, vice president; Miguel Tejeiro, secretary general, García Revenga, treasurer; and Princess Cristina, spokesperson.