Former King Juan Carlos of Spain Might Return to the Country As Fraud Investigation Against Him Is Dropped


Former King Juan Carlos I could be headed home to Spain after prosecutors dropped three investigations into his finances.

The royal initially fled the country in August 2020 amid allegations of money laundering and tax fraud, living in self-imposed exile ever since in a six-bedroom mansion on Zaya Nurai Island, an enclave off Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. But on Wednesday, Spain’s Public Prosecutor’s Office said that it had dropped all of the investigations into the king’s finances, citing insufficient evidence, statute of limitations, and immunity granted to him while serving as head of state. In December, another similar investigation into Juan Carlos in Geneva related to reported “aggravated money laundering” was dropped by Swiss authorities for similar reasons.

The Spanish statement read, per The Guardian, “The public prosecutor wishes to make it clear that, despite the investigation…no criminal action can be taken against His Majesty Juan Carlos de Borbón for the reasons outlined in the decree—basically the lack of incriminating evidence, the statute of limitations, the inviolability of the head of state, and tax regularization.” Along with that announcement, however, the Spanish prosecutor also emphasized that this does not mean the former king has been completely absolved. 

One of the claims against the royal, according to People, is that he received kickbacks up to nine figures for the role he played in an $8.5 billion Saudi rail contract awarded to Spanish firms in 2011. However, as the magazine reports, investigators were apparently unable “to establish, even indirectly, any link between the aforementioned sum…and the awarding of the project for the construction of a high-speed rail line in Saudi Arabia, nor, similarly, has it found that the sum was related to any kind of commission.” Juan Carlos’s lawyers have previously defended that payment, describing it as “a gift.” Up to $75 million of that, they said, was “regifted” to the king’s then mistress, Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein. The other two charges dropped against the royal pertained to the alleged fraudulent use of credit cards and offshore accounts.

Following this statement from the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Carlos’s attorney Javier Sancho-Junco has reportedly flown to the UAE to speak in person with the former king about what he wants to do next. But Juan Carlos’s legal difficulties aren’t quite over yet. In December Sayn-Wittgenstein accused her ex-lover in London’s High Court of using Spain’s secret service to spy on her and her children after the end of their five-year relationship, seeking damages for “great mental pain.” But the royal’s lawyer argued in a preliminary hearing that he could potentially have immunity in this case as the only way he could have ordered the spy agency into action was to have been head of state at the time.

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