NÓOS CASE

Royal couple’s villa embargoed to cover civil liability

Barcelona mansion and other properties seized to help cover civil liability bond of 6.4 million euros

The entrance to the duke and duchess's mansion in Pedralbes, Barcelona. / ALBERT GARCÍA (EL PAÍS)

A luxury villa in the upscale Pedralbes neighborhood of Barcelona, property of the king’s son-in-law, has been seized by order of the court investigating alleged fiscal crimes by Iñaki Urdangarin, husband to Princess Cristina.

Three other properties owned by the couple in Palma de Mallorca and Terrassa have also been confiscated to cover the civil liability bond of 6.4 million euros imposed in May by investigating judge José Castro, as the date of the trial approaches.

Urdangarin and his business partner Diego Torres are thought to have siphoned millions of euros of public money from the governments of Valencia and the Balearics between 2004 and 2006. The partners earned government contracts for sports and tourism events without official bids, and then channeled much of the money to privately owned companies and offshore tax havens, after overcharging for services which were sometimes nonexistent. The contracts were awarded to the Nóos Institute, a non-profit foundation owned by Urdangarin and Torres, who faces the same charges.

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

The Dukes of Palma bought the Pedralbes mansion in 2004 for 5.8 million euros after taking out a five-million-euro mortgage. The reformed residence has been on sale for some time with an asking price of 10 million euros. In January, Urdangarin's defense noted that since his client no longer has a job, it is difficult for him to meet the mortgage payments. The royal couple is at least three months in arrears, documents show.

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