NÓOS CASE

Nóos judge to probe reform work to royal couple’s house

José Castro to investigate origins of three million euros poured into Pedralbes property

The royal couple's residence in the exclusive Pedralbes area of Barcelona. / EL PAÍS

The judge investigating the shady business dealings of the royal son-in-law, Iñaki Urdangarín, has asked police to look into three million euros' worth of reform work to the Barcelona mansion owned by Urdangarín and his wife, Princess Cristina.

Judge José Castro wants to know where the money came from, who handled it and how. The renovation work was channeled through Aizóon, the real estate company owned by the couple.

Urdangarín already faces criminal charges for tax fraud, and the youngest daughter of King Juan Carlos is being investigated for potentially aiding and abetting her husband in his alleged money laundering operations. The judge hopes this investigation will finally clear up whether Cristina should be formally charged like her husband or not.

This particular investigation is part of a much larger probe into Urdangarín and his former business partner, Diego Torres. Both are thought to have siphoned millions of euros in public money from the governments of Valencia and the Balearics through Instituto Nóos, supposedly a non-profit organization to advance sports. The contracts that Nóos earned for organizing sports and tourism events between 2004 and 2006 gained them over seven million euros, most of which later made its way into private companies in their names.

The judge said those public contracts are void because they were earned without any public bidding. Urdangarín is believed to have used his position as a royal to influence the awarding of contracts.

In their 2005 tax filings, Cristina de Borbón and Iñaki Urdangarín declared having spent 1.27 million euros on reform work to their three-story home, which includes a swimming pool and a garden spread over 2,100 square meters. The following year, their tax statements show an investment of 1.58 million euros. This coincides with the period of greatest activity between Nóos and the Valencian and Balearic governments.

During the course of the lengthy investigation into Nóos, Torres has been releasing private e-mails to try to prove that Urdangarín's wife, and to some extent King Juan Carlos himself, were aware of the nature of Urdangarín's dealings. Over the course of seven years, Nóos and its affiliates made nine million euros from private firms, and another seven million from regional governments, for services that investigators believe were non-existent or grossly overcharged.

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