The mystery surrounding an official tax audit report on alleged 1.43-million-euro sales of properties by Princess Cristina became even murkier when the Finance Ministry on Monday acknowledged that it may have made an error in the information that it provided a judge who is investigating the royal daughter’s husband.
Finance officials have told Judge José Castro of the Balearic Islands that the property transaction information given to him, and which has provoked outrage among certain sectors, was erroneous, government sources said.
The report turned over to Castro last week states that the daughter of King Juan Carlos sold 13 apartments, homes and plots of land in Alicante, Ciudad Real and Barcelona for a total of 1.43 million euros between 2005 and 2006. The sales were reportedly made after she and her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, bought their mansion in Barcelona’s exclusive Pedralbes neighborhood for 5.8 million euros.
Attorney General Eduardo Torres-Dulce said that he ordered anti-corruption prosecutors to look at the report turned over by the AEAT tax agency that now forms part of the court’s record in the investigation into Urdangarin and his Nóos Institute.
“First, I am going to wait for the anti-corruption prosecutors, who are already on this case, to examine the AEAT report, and once they evaluate it they will offer me their opinion and then we will take action,” he told reporters.
For his part, Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro said he has no idea of the contents of the report. “The AEAT will give the necessary explanations if a mistake was made,” Montoro said.
That information is totally false and is not based on fact”
Princess Cristina's spokesman
The judge is investigating whether the princess and her husband may have committed tax fraud, and is also trying to determine the sources of their personal income during the period that the Nóos Institute was operating. He has asked for the couple’s tax filings from 2002 to 2012. Prosecutors believe that Urdangarin may have diverted some six million euros in public funds that was given to his non-profit entity, which was set up to organize sports events and tourism conferences.
Through a spokesman on Friday, Princess Cristina denied the sale of any properties. “That information is totally false and is not based on fact,” she said.
The biggest sale, according to the AEAT report, was for a 315- square-meter home in Calella, Barcelona, which sold for 450,000 euros. The cheapest transaction was 843 euros for a tract of land in Valenzuela de Calatrava, Ciudad Real. In Alicante, two other transactions appear in the report for 200,000 euros in Pilar de la Horadada.
Princess Cristina and Urdangarin both co-owned a real estate firm, Aizoon, which prosecutors believe was used to channel some of the Nóos Institute’s funds.
In a new ruling, Judge Castro has asked investigators to determine whether those transactions that were allegedly carried out by Princess Cristina appear in the property registrar’s records.
When asked by EL PAÍS, the AEAT tax agency declined to give an official explanation over the sales, citing privacy laws regarding individual taxpayers. But other sources described how the process worked inside the tax agency. AEAT received a petition from the judge and retrieved all the data that it has on file. The Finance Ministry keeps records of all real estate transactions by taxpayers collected through notaries and registrar offices. AEAT does not check the accuracy of the data that comes up in its electronic records, and sometimes the information has not been updated, the sources said.
In Princess Cristina’s case, AEAT officials sent Judge Castro what they had in their databanks without verifying it, leaving it up to the judge and his investigators to check its accuracy, the sources said.
“The Infanta Cristina didn’t have anyone else’s name to use? asks Ángela Roldán Cañizares as she stands crying at the door of her home in Valenzuela de Calatrava, a town of about 800 inhabitants near Ciudad Real.
“She has used us to commit fraud at the tax agency, and she used the most unassuming and poorest people she could find.”
Ángela and her family learned through EL PAÍS on Friday that her mother’s home and four small rustic ranch houses outside the town appear in the AEAT tax agency report given to a judge that lists the 13 properties Princess Cristina allegedly sold between 2005-2006 for 1.43 million euros. “How can the king’s daughter sell my mother’s home and our four ranch houses when they are ours? How can she sell something that is not hers?” an outraged Ángela asked.
The Roldán family have the original land deeds going back to 1928, when the properties belonged to the mother’s uncle. “This is fraud and it is affecting me,” the 37-year-old Ángela said.
Her husband was more direct: “If they committed fraud, then it is their fault. The guilty ones must pay. We have everything in order.”
In Barcelona, where the AEAT report shows that the princess made 450,000 euros by selling a 315-square-meter home, the current owner of the property was also stunned when he learned about the supposed transaction.
“That information isn’t correct,” says the man, who didn’t want to be identified. According to the AEAT report, a sales transaction occurred on March 16, 2006. “Yes, the dates seem right; it is possible that I may have bought it then but not from the person you have mentioned.”
The owner denied that he purchased the three-story building from Princess Cristina or any partnership or registered business. “The home was an inheritance. A girl by the name of Judith was the owner of the property, and she was the person that sold it to me. She got it through an inheritance.”
“The infanta? What does she have to do with me?” asked the surprised woman about the home she sold. “It belonged to my grandfather, who bought it years ago, but I don’t remember how many. When he died it passed on to my father. After my father died, my aunt and decided to sell it.”
In Alicante, the AEAT report shows that Princess Cristina sold an apartment and a space in a parking garage in the exclusive neighborhood of Isla Blanca, near San Juan beach and next to the golf course.
The owners who own the property live in Vizcaya but assured EL PAÍS they did not purchase it neither from the princess nor her husband. “I am surprised and upset. Where is all of this coming from about the princess? I bought it from a married couple in their seventies,” said the owner whose initials are F. J. O. A.
The report also states that Cristina sold five rural properties in Pilar de la Horadada, a town near Murcia. According to municipal sources, Murcia officials invited Cristina in 1999 for the inauguration of a sports pavilion named for her husband, the Duke of Palma, but she declined the invitation because she was pregnant at the time.
Back in Valenzuela de Calatrava, a friend of the Roldán family jokes: “I know a good lawyer. What if we all go after the king?
“I don’t want to hurt anyone,” says Ángela. “I just want to continue to stay poor as always.”