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ROYAL SCANDAL

Princess Cristina: “I am convinced of my husband’s innocence”

The ‘infanta’ only agrees to answer questions from her lawyer as she declares at Nóos trial

Cristina de Borbón and Iñaki Urdangarin arrive at the Palma de Mallorca courthouse on Thursday.
Cristina de Borbón and Iñaki Urdangarin arrive at the Palma de Mallorca courthouse on Thursday. REUTERS

Princess Cristina de Borbón, sister of Spain’s King Felipe, became the first member of the Spanish royal family to declare at a trial as she answered questions at the Noós corruption hearing in Palma de Mallorca on Thursday afternoon.

However, the infanta, as she is known in Spain, only accepted to answer queries posed by her lawyer, which is to say that she declined to respond to questions from the prosecution or the other defense lawyers.

During her declaration she distanced herself from the running of Aizoon, the company she jointly owned with her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, that is suspected of being used to channel funds out of his non-profit Nóos Institute and expressed her full confidence in his innocence.

“I completely trust my husband and I am convinced of his innocence,” she said.

When we had expenses, we handed the receipts to the secretary and she decided what expenses were passed on to the accounts department

Iñaki Urdangarin

She also said that it was her husband who took care of all the family’s economic affairs and denied holding bank accounts in tax havens. “I do now have an account in Switzerland, since I live in Switzerland,” she said. “I have never had accounts in tax havens and neither has my husband.”

The princess had taken to the stand after prosecutors finished their questioning of her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, on Thursday.

The former Olympic handball player is accused of diverting €4.5 million of €6.2 million that he and his business partner Diego Torres earned in public contracts from the Balearic Islands and Valencia regional government from Nóos to private businesses. He faces up to 19-and-a-half years in prison if found guilty of all the charges against him.

The obscure right-wing Manos Limpias labor union, which has filed a private accusation against the Princess Cristina, is demanding she serve an eight-year prison sentence for making personal purchases using a company credit card belonging to Aizoon and claiming them as deductions in her tax filings.

Earlier in the day Urdangarin had sought to radically disassociate his wife from the management of Aizoon, the company they jointly owned that is suspected of being used to channel funds out of his non-profit Nóos Institute.

The royal brother-in-law also categorically distanced former King Juan Carlos from any involvement in his businesses. “Did his majesty intervene in your businesses and in those of your wife?” asked the lawyer for Manos Limpias.

“Not at any moment,” Urdangarin replied.

Urdangarin has said his wife never had anything to do with the management at Aizoon, which he claims was set up to “channel” the “fees” he earned for his work at the Nóos Institute. When asked to explain why personal purchases that included a €15,797 family safari in Africa, €1,357 worth of wine, €6,672 of coaching sessions, as well as cosmetics and trips to the hairdresser were charged to Aizoon and deducted as company expenses in tax filings, he took refuge behind his secretary Julita Cuquerella, and former Nóos Institute accountant Marco Antonio Tejeiro.

“When we had expenses, we handed the receipts to the secretary and she decided what expenses were passed on to the accounts department,” Urdangarin told Manos Limpias lawyer Virginia López Negrete.

He also said Princess Cristina was never in possession of an Aizoon company credit card. “The bank issued two cards, one for me, and after seeing that my wife owned 50% of the firm, it issued another, but I kept hold of it. She never had it personally. The card numbers were kept by me or my secretary,” he said.

Urdangarin stated that a number of people he trusted used the card in his name to run various errands. “My secretary, of course, used the credit card,” he said.

“Also to go to the hairdresser?” asked López Negrete.

“I don’t know, I don’t know how it was paid for, whether it was by transfer or with the card, but she had a lot of expenses,” Urdangarin replied.

“And to go to the pharmacy?”

“There were people in our trust with our codes,” he said.

He also once again took shelter behind the fact that the Royal Household supervised his activities, saying he regularly consulted with the infanta’s secretary Carlos García Revenga; José Manuel Romero, the king’s private lawyer, who looked after legal matters, and Federico Rubio, who oversaw tax issues. He also revealed that the Royal Household’s security and communications chiefs supervised him.

The tensest moment of the Manos Limpias questioning came when López Negrete exhibited a document addressed to, among others, “Jcsumer,” an acronym corresponding to “Juan Carlos Su Majestad el Rey” (Juan Carlos His Majesty the King), which led Judge Samantha Romero to warn that this could be a piece of evidence not previously admitted at the beginning of the trial in January.

After a 30-minute recess to deliberate the matter, the judge confirmed that the document was invalid. The lawyer attributed the incident to a mistake in the numbering of the summary.

English version by Nick Funnell.

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