The king’s son-in-law Iñaki Urdangarin, who is at the center of a corruption investigation, has informed the monarch of his intention to take up a job offer in Qatar, thus putting thousands of kilometers between him and the court in Mallorca where he, his former business partner and now his wife, Princess Cristina, are being probed by a judge for their alleged role in the Nóos fraud case.
Urdangarin, who has no official role after giving up his Washington-based job with Telefónica, is set to take up an as-yet unspecified position on the staff of Spanish handball coach Valero Rivera, who has been asked to take charge of the Qatari national team. Urdangarin and Rivera have been friends since the latter was coach of the FC Barcelona handball team in the 1990s, when Urdangarin was one of the club’s key players and an Olympic star for Spain.
Rivera has yet to agree terms with the Qatari sporting authorities, but he has already asked Urdangarin to form a part of his staff. Rivera, currently the coach of Spain’s national team with which he won the world championship in Barcelona earlier this year, has always defended Urdangarin from the accusations he faces, describing him as a “great friend” and criticizing the media for “condemning him before he is put on trial.”
Urdangarin is expected to travel to Doha in the coming days to negotiate his contract. Princess Cristina will stay in Spain with the couple’s children, at least until the end of the school year.
It is believed the duke will be allowed to travel abroad as the prosecutor in the Nóos case, Pedro Horrach, will not demand that he hand over his passport, despite his status as a suspect in the ongoing investigation.
In 1997 Urdangarin married Princess Cristina, taking the title of Duke of Palma. Now the investigation led by Judge José Castro has revealed that he and his partner at the non-profit Nóos Institute, Diego Torres, received fat contracts from the regional governments of the Balearic Islands and Valencia when organizing sports-related events and conferences, later allegedly pocketing the money via offshore accounts and front companies. In 2005 the duke and duchess bought a mansion in Barcelona worth 5.4 million euros. This property is now at the disposition of the Mallorca court after Urdangarin and Torres were unable to pay the 8.1 million-euro bond imposed on them by Judge Castro.
Last week the investigating judge took the step of targeting Princess Cristina as a formal suspect in the case, although the subpoena that demands she report to the Palma de Mallorca courthouse to declare has been suspended pending an appeal by Prosecutor Horrach in the case.