Urdangarin tried to take advantage of king’s friendship with Calderón
Royal son-in-law sought business opportunities in Mexico, Nóos case notes reveal
Royal son-in-law Iñaki Urdangarin tried to take advantage of the good relationship between King Juan Carlos and former Mexican President Felipe Calderón to explore business opportunities in that country. In March 2008, two years after Urdangarin abandoned his dealings with the Nóos Institute — at least on paper — the Duke of Palma gave a proposal to Enrique Calabuig, a businessman connected to Aguas de Valencia with whom, according to an ongoing judicial investigation, he planned on setting up commercial operations in Morocco, Libya and Portugal.
That proposal, entitled “Business Opportunities in Mexico,” was submitted into evidence as part of the Nóos Institute fraud inquiry by Urdangarin’s former business partner, Diego Torres, who is also a defendant in the case. The document was drafted after Urdangarin requested information on various business prospects from a consultant, and explored three areas in which investments could be made in Mexico: public water management, wind energy projects and tourism development.
The “door” to opportunity lies with “the president of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, with whom the Royal Household has very good relations after his visit to Spain last year,” reads the report that also includes data compiled by Urdangarin, who has been married to Spain’s Princess Cristina since 1997. The document adds that the time for this undertaking was ripe because of “a scheduled meeting with him in a few months at the Zarzuela” royal palace.
As part of his defense in the alleged diversion of public funds investigation, Torres has been trying to demonstrate that the royal family, including the king and Princess Cristina, was complicit in Urdangarin’s businesses dealings. José Castro, the Balearic Islands judge who is carrying out the inquiry, has subpoenaed Princess Cristina to testify but that summons has been put on hold as her lawyers have filed an appeal.
In June 2008, King Juan Carlos hosted Calderón at a lunch at the Zarzuela Palace at which Urdangarin and Princess Cristina were also in attendance. The document recommends that any contracts that arose from this deal should be negotiated with Calderón’s advisors and top officials from the Spanish government.
The documents provided by Torres on Mexican business opportunities also include photographs of Calderon’s visit. Torres accuses the princess of having “lied” in her appeal to the prosecutor to quash the subpoena. The defense has called into question her sudden resignation as a member of the Nóos Institute board in March 2006. “I do not quite understand why — if her role was so immaculate and uninspiring — her resignation was necessary,” argues Torres’ lawyer, who the judge that the “Urdangarin camp, which now included his wife” refers in an “unfortunate and repeated” manner to his client in an effort to “try to distort reality.”
At least six people have testified in relation to the international dealings of Urdangarin and Aguas de Valencia. Specifically, the witnesses have answered questions about a contract in which 125,000 euros were paid out in quarterly dividends with the money allegedly ending up in Swiss banks.
Those called in to try to clear up the matter have been Urdangarin’s lawyer friend and businessman José María Treviño; Javier Jiménez Andrade, Treviño’s tax consultant; Alex Sánchez Mollinger, an employee; advertiser Miguel Zorio; and Urdangarin’s secretary Julita Cuquerella, who gave him the contract.