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ROYAL CORRUPTION SCANDAL

Court maintains Spanish king’s sister Cristina as suspect in tax fraud case

Royal has been under investigation since 2013 in so-called Nóos corruption case

Her husband is alleged to have siphoned off public money into personal accounts

Infanta Cristina, pictured in Geneva last month.
Infanta Cristina, pictured in Geneva last month.

Cristina de Borbón, the sister of Spain’s King Felipe VI, is likely to be tried in court alongside her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, as part of the so-called Nóos corruption case.

After considering a number of appeals, a court in Palma de Mallorca unanimously ruled today that the daughter of former king Juan Carlos should remain an official suspect in an investigation that began in 2013, and that has already seen her appear before a judge in February 2014 to answer questions about alleged crimes of tax fraud during 2007 and 2008 and money laundering. Friday’s ruling states that the infanta, as the princess is commonly known, will be tried for the former offense but not the latter.

In the writ, the magistrates argue that the infanta knew that “her husband’s actions with regard to taxes were irregular,” and that it is “undeniable” that she contributed to “defrauding the Tax Agency” given that she benefited from money that was siphoned off from Urdangarin’s companies, without making the appropriate declarations to the tax authorities.

The magistrates argue that the infanta knew that “her husband’s actions with regard to taxes were irregular”

The trial is likely to take pace in 2016, unless the so-called Botín doctrine is applied, which would see Cristina avoid the ignominy of having to sit in the dock. Drafted by the Supreme Court, the doctrine states that an official suspect will not appear in court if the accusation of an offense does not come from the public prosecutor or those directly affected by the events under examination.

Given that in this specific case neither the public prosecutor nor the State Attorney’s Office consider the infanta to have committed any offense, the case could still be shelved.

The corruption scandal is related to the alleged misappropriation of €6 million of public funds by the non-profit Nóos Institute, which was set up by Urdangarin and his business partner Diego Torres and partly owned by Infanta Cristina.

Urdangarin and Torres are suspected of diverting funds paid to the institute by regional governments for the organization of sporting events into their own pockets.

The Palma court has now ruled on 13 appeals that were filed by the parties involved in the Nóos case. Among those, only the far-right pseudo-labor union Manos Limpias maintained its accusation against Cristina de Borbón, while the public prosecutor and the State Attorney’s Office rejected any criminal wrongdoing on her part. Her defense lawyer, Miquel Roca, argued that none of the accusations against her were founded, and that she was “completely removed from” the management of the family company and the alleged fraud offenses attributed to her husband, the Duke of Palma. 

After the ruling was made public on Friday, anticorruption prosecutor Pedro Horrach – who opposes the infanta sitting in the dock – said that there was no evidence that Cristina had committed any offenses. “I don’t know if she’ll have to go to trial,” he said Friday.

Cristina’s lawyer, Miquel Roca, described the court’s decision to maintain her as a suspect as “surprising,” although he expressed some satisfaction due to the shelving of the money-laundering charge, which he considers to be “the most serious.”

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