NÓOS CASE

Registrar’s office confirms sold properties did not belong to Princess Cristina

Experts agree that human error in tax agency report is a possibility but a remote one

The College of Land Registrars has officially confirmed that none of the 13 property sales the AEAT tax agency attributed to Princess Cristina in 2005 and 2006 were in any way connected to the king’s daughter. The tax authorities had issued documentation stating the princess had sold the properties for a total of 1.4 million euros. “They are not registered [in Cristina’s name] and have never belonged to her,” said sources at the registry.

The General Council of Notaries also reacted by saying that an “exhaustive” investigation will be launched and its conclusions sent to Judge José Castro, who is investigating the Nóos corruption case involving the Duke of Palma, Princess Cristina’s husband, and had originally asked for the documentation.

Notaries and registrars consulted by EL PAÍS detailed the process by which information is relayed to the tax agency and the courts, and all agreed that human error is a possibility. However, these sources also expressed unanimous surprise that an error of this kind could have occurred at all, let alone on four separate occasions in transactions registered in three different provinces: Alicante, Barcelona and Ciudad Real.

Mistakes get corrected; that’s all there is to it”

“The possibility of an error is negligible,” said one of the registrars consulted.

“Like everyone, we can make mistakes but it is very rare,” said a notary with more than 20 years’ experience. One of the notaries who participated in the sale of one of the properties also expressed his surprise at the princess’s involvement, although he did not reveal any details as the information is confidential.

Inscription on the registry is voluntary as long as the property being sold carries no mortgage. However, most registrars do inscribe exchanges as a precaution against fraud if the transaction involves large amounts or companies based in tax havens.

Tractor on the wrong track

The controversy surrounding Princess Cristina’s tax agency report would not be the first case of mistaken identity on the part of the Spanish authorities involving a royal: on April 24 Princess Elena was nearly fined by the Civil Guard for driving a tractor without insurance.

The two officers stopped the vehicle in Valladolid province and discovered the driver, a man, had no insurance. Filling in the form, one of the officers wrote 12 – the eldest princess’s DNI – in the corresponding box but did not complete the number of the driver.

The mistake was corrected and the princess did not receive the fine, of between 601 and 3,005 euros.

When a judge asks for information, a registrar enters the national identity card (DNI) number of the person in question. In the case of human error, four registrars would have had to erroneously type the princess’s DNI, which as a member of the royal family contains just two numbers instead of the standard eight plus a letter. The king’s younger daughter’s number is 14.

In the Ciudad Real transaction, the registrar failed to cross-check the information as the princess’s name does not feature as either the seller or buyer on the documentation.

The experts consulted agreed there might have been an error when the DNI box was filled in on the forms. They also said it was impossible the fictitious transactions were a money-laundering scheme as the supposed profits were not tax declarable.

The princess’s lawyer, Miquel Roca, said on Tuesday that no lawsuit would be filed against the tax agency. “If there are mistakes there are mistakes,” he said. “Mistakes get corrected, and that’s all there is to it.”

Princess Cristina and her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, are implicated in the Nóos case currently in the hands of the courts. Urdangarin, the Duke of Palma, stands accused of siphoning off millions in public funds from the Valencia and Balearic Islands regional governments through his non-profit Nóos Institute.

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