Royals relieved that Cristina will testify in tax fraud case
Princess drops appeal plan after being made aware of need to address growing scandal by king’s palace circle
Spain’s royal family is relieved that Princess Cristina will not appeal the preliminary charges against her and will instead testify in court over allegations of tax fraud and money laundering.
Her decision is “very positive,” said the Royal Household in a statement Saturday.
Cristina de Borbón’s lawyer had said on Tuesday that they would appeal the judge’s decision to make her a formal target in the investigation, as had occurred on a previous occasion in April 2013. But on Friday Miquel Roca announced in writing that his client was renouncing this right and would testify voluntarily on March 8.
The U-turn came after Cristina had flown in from Geneva, where she now lives, and spent the night at Madrid’s La Zarzuela royal palace. The royal family has expressed a desire to put an end as quickly as possible to “the suffering” caused by the long-running case.
The youngest daughter to King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía has been caught up in an ongoing investigation into her husband’s dubious business practices. Iñaki Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball player who married Cristina in 1997, is under scrutiny for allegedly embezzling 5.8 million euros obtained through no-bid contracts with the governments of Valencia and the Balearics. He and his onetime associate, Diego Torres, who were hired to organize sports and tourism events through their non-profit Nóos Institute, then channeled much of the money to private firms and tax havens, the investigation claims.
Examining Judge José Castro believes that Princess Cristina benefited from that money through her use of funds from Aizoon, a company she owns jointly with her husband and whose sole activity seems to be as a depository of Nóos money. The princess used some of those funds to pay for dinnerware, dance lessons and expensive restaurant meals.
The international media have given the ongoing scandal extensive coverage, with The Economist talking about the “Royal Mess” in Spain and The New York Times noting that Princess Cristina “is the first close relative of a Spanish monarch in modern history to face the prospect of a criminal trial.”
Both Juan Carlos and Crown Prince Felipe keep abreast of world headlines and are aware of the dent this case makes on the institution’s image. Sources at La Zarzuela said that Cristina was made to see that cooperating with the judge would be the best thing for herself and for the king, who for the first time was visibly nervous during a public address on January 6. Experts say his difficulty with the speech evidenced the months of emotional distress over his daughter’s situation and other issues that have brought down the monarchy’s popularity ratings in recent times.
But La Zarzuela has finally decided to take the matter in its own hands and convinced Cristina to keep her date with Judge Castro and avoid a whole new set of appeals and counter-appeals. This time, her lawyer feels that her defense will be easier since the Tax Agency has already told the judge that it sees no evidence of crimes in Cristina’s financial affairs.
Anticorruption prosecutor Pedro Horrach’s public dissent against Judge Castro’s decision to target Cristina only made the magistrate go to great lengths to justify his decision, producing a 227-page ruling that contains all kinds of details about Cristina’s personal life and tastes as evidenced by her credit card purchases — all of which has since become public knowledge.
“The Princess is already convicted,” said sources at La Zarzuela in reference to public opinion.