A week after he appeared in Congress to explain the alleged administrative blunders that attributed the sale of 13 properties worth 1.4 million euros to Princess Cristina in 2005 and 2006, Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro was back on Wednesday to reiterate that it was “a regrettable error” and that there was no reason “for suspicion.”
But opposition groups called his explanations “implausible” and demanded further details on a case that has created a new crisis for the Royal Household, already struggling with the criminal investigation into Princess Cristina’s husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, who has being probed by Balearic Judge José Castro for the alleged misappropriation of millions of euros of public funds and money laundering.
Tax authorities and notaries have since acknowledged that the properties in question were never registered to the king’s daughter, and that there was a mix-up with her ID number. All Spaniards have an ID number made up of eight digits and a letter. As a member of royalty, Princess Cristina’s only has two digits, leading some people to wonder how such a mistake could have been made in the first place.
The issue of Princess Cristina’s financial activities is an offshoot of the probe into her husband’s business dealings, since both shared ownership of a real estate firm called Aizoon. The tax agency originally informed the investigating judge that the princess had sold those properties, according to its records obtained from third parties.
Your explanations cannot be believed because they are incomprehensible”
On Wednesday, Socialist deputy Pedro Saura told Minister Montoro that the government’s “note” explaining that most of the mistakes were attributable to notaries and registrar’s offices, and only marginally to the tax agency, was “a botched job.” He also questioned whether the Popular Party (PP) government really wanted to cooperate with the court investigation into Urdangarin — the royal son-in-law allegedly obtained hefty no-bid contracts from regional PP governments.
Another member of the opposition, Carlos Martínez Gorriarán of the centrist Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD) party, was equally skeptical. “You are not really explaining anything, because attributing everything to mistakes by notaries and registrars is implausible,” he said. “We await further explanations, because something is not working right, and given the deterioration of our institutions, this case is not doing them any good.
“Your explanations cannot be believed, as Judge Castro says, because they are incomprehensible.”
Asked by the Socialist Saura to apologize for the mix-up, Montoro said he had already done so. “I have already apologized to Spanish society and to the Royal Household; these are regrettable errors but they are not detrimental to the judicial investigation and they are not a blot on the work of the tax agency,” he said.
Everyone involved has been blaming one another for the 11 mistakes found in the paperwork. The tax agency admits to two errors, but the General Council of Notaries is only admitting to a single ID-related mistake in the information it provided on Princess Cristina. This mistake, however, affected five different properties, so that it turned into five mistakes. The errors occurred when digital forms were completed. On six other occasions, the number 14 was entered into a field described as “Other” but mysteriously showed up under “ID” on the tax agency’s computer program. Each blames the other for this.
Meanwhile, the attorney general, Eduardo Torres-Dulce, insisted that the case would remain under investigation despite the explanations. “We will not remain idle and simply call it a mistake by the tax agency,” he said. “If we receive the corresponding explanations, we will accept them, because mistakes can happen, and if that had an impact on the court proceedings, it will be analyzed.”