Spain’s former king Juan Carlos I settles tax debt of more than £600,000 from his self-imposed Emirati exile as attorney general in Madrid probes his financial dealings over money laundering claims
- Juan Carlos went into self-imposed five-star exile in Abu Dhabi four months ago
- The 82-year-old former monarch faces probes in Spain into financial corruption
- On Wednesday, his lawyer declared payment of 678,393.72 euros to tax office
- Also in the spotlight is a former mistress he gifted 65 million euros to in 2012
Spain’s former king Juan Carlos I has settled a tax debt of more than £600,000 with the Spanish tax authorities, his lawyer announced on Wednesday.
Juan Carlos fled to self-imposed exile in the United Arab Emirates four months ago, where he was said to be holed up with his longtime mistress in the £10,000-a-night presidential suite at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
The 82-year-old Lothario is facing a legal probe by the Spanish attorney general over claims that he used credit cards which were not in his name to launder money.
King Juan Carlos of Spain waits for President of Chile Sebastian Pinera at Pardo palace in Madrid on March 7, 2011
His lawyer said: ‘King Juan Carlos… has presented the fiscal authorities with a spontaneous declaration that led to a tax debt, already settled and amounting to 678,393.72 euros, including interest and penalties.’
In the brief statement, the lawyer added that his client ‘remains, as always, at the disposition of the public ministry for any procedure or action the latter deems appropriate.’
El Pais newspaper reported on Sunday that the former king submitted a voluntary declaration to the Spanish tax office in order to put his finances in order.
The declaration was presented by his lawyer with sources telling the paper the move was in connection with an ongoing anti-graft investigation looking into his credit card use.
The legal probe was confirmed last month by Spain’s attorney general, with judicial sources telling AFP at the time they were looking at whether the former king used cards linked to accounts not registered in his name – which could constitute a possible money-laundering offence.
They said investigators were looking into funds deposited in several Spanish bank accounts held by a Mexican business and a Spanish Air Force official, and whether they had been accessed by the former monarch.
Juan Carlos, who is married to Queen Sofia, 81, left Spain in August after it was claimed he allegedly received millions of euros from Saudi Arabia ‘s late King Abdullah. Pictured, Juan Carlos and Sofia in 2004
Prosecutors had sent legal requests abroad to determine whether the monies deposited in the accounts had been hidden from the tax authorities.
In 2014, King Juan swiftly abdicated in favour of his son Felipe (pictured with his wife Letizia in January)
If proven, the allegations could constitute a money laundering offence for which he could be prosecuted given that the movement of funds and use of the credit cards occurred after his abdication in June 2014.
Prosecutors are also examining a Saudi high-speed rail contract that was won by a consortium of Spanish companies in 2011, seeking to establish whether the then-monarch was paid a commission.
According to Swiss daily La Tribune, the late Saudi king Abdullah deposited $100 million into a Swiss private bank in 2008 to which Juan Carlos I had access, prompting suspicions it was a kickback for the contract which was awarded three years later.
Swiss prosecutors are investigating Juan Carlos’s former mistress, 56-year-old Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, a German-born Danish aristocrat who he gifted 65 million euros to in 2012.
King Juan married Sofia in 1962 – and rumours of various affairs had been rife for 40 years by the time he met businesswoman Ms Sayn-Wittgenstein in 2004.
Spanish King Juan Carlos greets Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Barcelona on 22 May 2006
Corinna (pictured right in 2006) had an affair with ex-King Juan Carlos (pictured left), 82, from 2004 to 2009
Ms Sayn-Wittgenstein’s relationship with the then King of Spain was catapulted into the limelight in 2012 after he broke his hip during a safari trip to Botswana, on which she had accompanied him as a friend after they’d reportedly ended their romantic relationship.
It was found in 2018 that Juan Carlos had given a £59 million (€65 million) payment to Ms Sayn-Wittgenstein in 2012.
Swiss prosecutors are currently examining her under suspicion of money laundering – but Ms Sayn-Wittgenstein has claimed the money was simply a way of ‘taking care of her’ as he believed she would be cut out of his will.
Both Ms Sayn-Wittgenstein and the former Spanish monarch deny any wrongdoing.
Who is Spain’s former king, Juan Carlos I?
Juan Carlos I reigned as king of Spain from November 1975 until his abdication in June 2014
Juan Carlos I reigned as king of Spain from November 1975 until his abdication in June 2014.
He was a popular monarch for most of his four-decade reign who played a critical role in the country’s transition to democracy.
He is the grandson of Alfonso XIII, the last king of Spain before the abolition of the monarchy in 1931 and the subsequent declaration of the Second Spanish Republic.
Juan Carlos was born in Rome, Italy, on January 5, 1938, during his family’s exile. He came to Spain in 1947 to continue his studies and entered the Zaragoza military academy.
He completed his tertiary education at the University of Madrid and went on to marry Princess Sofia of Greece and Denmark in Athens in 1962.
They went on to have two daughters and a son together: Elena, Cristina, and Felipe.
Juan Carlos first began periodically acting as Spain’s head of state in the summer of 1974. Fascist dictator Francisco Franco died in November the following year and Juan Carlos became king on 22 November 1975, two days after Franco’s death.
Juan Carlos was hailed for his role in Spain’s transition to democracy and reforms to dismantle the Francoist regime.
However the King and the monarchy’s reputation began to suffer after controversies surrounding his family arose.
In April 2012, Juan Carlos faced criticism for an elephant-hunting trip in Botswana during a time of financial crisis in Spain.
The public found out about the trip only after the King injured himself and a special aircraft was sent to bring him home.
Pictured left to right: Then-Princess Letizia , Prince Felipe, Queen Sofia and King Juan Carlos pose for a photo in 2009
Spanish officials stated that the expenses of the trip were not paid by taxpayers or by the palace, but by Syrian businessman Mohamed Eyad Kayali.
Corruption scandals circling the royal family closed in when his daughter, Princess Cristina, was accused of tax fraud in 2014 and became the first Spanish royal to stand trial. She was later acquitted, but her husband was sentenced.
He abdicated in favour of his son, Prince Felipe, in 2014, and last year, Juan Carlos announced his decision to withdraw from public life, ending his remaining institutional functions and appearances from June 2019. Last August, he successfully underwent heart surgery in Madrid.
In June 2020, Spain’s supreme court prosecutor opened an investigation into Juan Carlos’ involvement in a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia that was granted to a group of Spanish companies in 2011.
King Felipe renounced his own inheritance and stripped his father of his palace allowance in March after reports the latter received $100 million from the late Saudi king and gave millions to a businesswoman.
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