NÓOS INQUIRY

Royal spokesman urges judge in Nóos case to speed up inquiry into princess

Decision may be made this week whether to target Cristina in investigation

Princess Cristina, seen in May 2013. / Andreu Dalmau (EFE)

The judge investigating the alleged syphoning off of public money at the Nóos Institute may decide as early as this week whether he will formally target Princess Cristina in the inquiry into her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin.

Over the last month, Palma de Mallorca Judge José Castro has maintained a “line of investigation leaning toward ruling on or rejecting” whether the princess may have committed money-laundering and tax offenses.

On Saturday, the spokesman for the Royal Household, Rafael Spottorno, said in a TV interview that the ongoing Nóos inquiry, which began three years ago, has become “agonizing” for the royal family, and publicly asked the judge to close the investigation soon. “We have to trust in the justice system. We have always respected the judge’s duties. But the only thing we ask is that he finish it soon,” Spottorno told state broadcaster TVE. “We believe that all of the reports that needed to be written have already been completed, and I believe that the judge understands that he has reached a stage [...] where he can close the investigation,” he added.

Castro had ordered the police UDEF economic crimes squad to look into the princess’s tax statements and finances. Although she is not under official investigation, the princess’s lawyers have joined the case to refute a series of emails that question her role at the Nóos Institute. The emails were submitted by Urdangarin’s co-defendant and former partner, Diego Torres, as part of his own defense.

Millions diverted

Prosecutors believe that Urdangarin, Torres and others diverted millions of euros in public money given to the Nóos Institute by the regional governments in the Balearics and Valencia to organize a series of sports and tourism conferences. Some of that money may have ended up at real estate firm Aizóon, which was owned by the royal couple, investigators say.

Urdangarin set up the non-profit Nóos Institute with Torres in the early part of the last decade to organize events. In 2006, King Juan Carlos ordered his son-in-law to break all ties with Nóos after word of the investigation surfaced. But Torres maintains that Urdangarin continued to work behind-the-scenes despite the king’s orders.

Some weeks ago, anti-corruption prosecutors filed a motion with the judge saying that there was not enough evidence to investigate the princess. But Manos Limpias, an obscure rightwing union that joined the case by filing a private prosecution, is demanding that Cristina be placed under investigation.

Last year, Castro tried to call in the princess to testify, but the subpoena was quashed after an appeal on the decision was overruled by a judges’ panel.

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