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INHERITANCE

King faces ‘inheritance dodging’ claims

Spain's main opposition socialist party said on Tuesday it would ask the government if King Juan Carlos has his taxes in order after a newspaper reported he got an inheritance worth over two million euros following the death of his father.

King faces 'inheritance dodging' claims
Spain's royal family (seen here in 2008) is under the spotlight after revelations of the size of the inheritance left by King Juan Carlos' father. Photo: Javier Soriano/AFP

“The socialist party (PSOE) will ask the government if it knew of the inheritance received by King Juan Carlos and if it can tell us if this inheritance was declared to tax officials,” a spokeswoman for the Socialist Party group in parliament told new agency AFP.

The Infante Juan of Spain, Count of Barcelona left his family 1.1 billion pesetas — the equivalent of around €6.6 million ($8.5 million) — to his family in three bank accounts in Switzerland, where they had lived for several years, the newspaper said.

King Juan Carlos received 375 million pesetas, or around €2.2 million.

Several smaller parties have already presented parliament with written questions over the affair after centre-right newspaper El Mundo reported on Sunday that King Juan Carlos received an inheritance when his father Juan died on April 1, 1993.

Officials from Spain's ruling conservative Popular Party have indicated it was not in favour of looking into the inheritance with Popular Party lawmaker Rafael Hernando telling reporters Monday the issued “belongs to the past”.

The royal palace, which at the end of 2011 released a breakdown of the royal family's finances for the first time as part of the king's commitment to making his household's accounts transparent, said Tuesday it was looking into the report.

“We are searching for information and once we have it we will release it,” a spokesman for the royal palace told AFP.

The question of the inheritance comes at a delicate time for the royal family, which finds itself at the heart of several scandals, including a probe into allegations that the king's son-in-law, Inaki Urdangarin, embezzled million of euros in public money.

The corruption probe, and an elephant hunting trip which the king took on Botswana last year, have thrown the spotlight on the royal family's deluxe lifestyle and opaque fortune as Spain grapples with a record unemployment rate of 26 percent.

General support for having a monarchy in Spain fell to a historic low of 54 percent, according to a poll published in January in El Mundo.

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ROYALTY

‘Alone and bored’: A year after exile, legal woes haunt Spain’s ex-king

A year after Spain's former King Juan Carlos went into self-imposed exile in the face of mounting questions over his finances, he remains under a cloud of suspicion that complicates his return home.

'Alone and bored': A year after exile, legal woes haunt Spain's ex-king
Juan Carlos I's close ties with Gulf leaders have allowed him to live in opulent exile in Abu Dhabi for a year. Photo: KARIM SAHIB / AFP

He announced on August 3, 2020 he was moving abroad to prevent his personal affairs from undermining his son King Felipe VI’s reign and sullying the monarchy.

But his choice of new home — the United Arab Emirates, where some of his business affairs triggered the scandals that tainted his reputation in the first place — only raised Spaniards’ eyebrows further.

Juan Carlos has told his son that he would like to return to Spain “but he won’t come back without the approval” of the royal household, said Jose Apezarena, the author of several books on Felipe.

And the position of the royals is that “until his legal problems end, he should not return”, Apezarena told AFP.

The 83-year-old former king is the target of three separate investigations over his financial dealings, including those linked to a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia that was awarded to a Spanish consortium.

Prosecutors in Spain and Switzerland are looking into suspicions he received kickbacks for facilitating the deal.

The suspicions centre on $100 million (€85 million) that Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah allegedly deposited in 2008 into a Swiss bank account to which Juan Carlos had access.

The other two investigations concern the alleged existence of a trust fund in Jersey linked to Juan Carlos and the undeclared use of credit cards linked to accounts not registered in his name, a possible money-laundering offence.

‘Very bored’

Spanish monarchs have immunity during their reign but Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014 following a series of health problems and embarrassing revelations about his personal life, leaving himself vulnerable to prosecution.

While he has not been charged with any crime, the probes have tainted his reputation as a leader of Spain’s democratic transition following the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.

Outside of the Royal Palace in central Madrid, opinions were divided.

“He is being judged without any evidence, he should be able to come home if that’s what he wants,” said Pura Fernandez, 46, a bank worker.

But delivery rider Angel Galan, 27, was less sympathetic.

“He may have done some great things for Spain but if he committed irregularities I am not sad that he is gone,” he said.

While in exile, Juan Carlos has twice settled tax debts with Spanish authorities for a total of more than €5 million.

But he has otherwise kept a low profile at the villa on the island of Nurai off the coast of Abu Dhabi where he now lives.

“He is alone and very bored,” said Apezarena.

Photo: KARIM SAHIB / AFP

‘Not normal’

When reports emerged in February that Juan Carlos was in poor heath, the former monarch told online Spanish daily OKDiario he was “well, exercising two hours daily” in his only comments to the media since moving abroad.

Abel Hernández, a journalist and expert on the monarchy, said he believes Juan Carlos will return to Spain by the end of the year.

“He has not been charged with anything and has regularised his situation with the tax office. It does not seem normal that he remains outside of the country,” Hernández told AFP.

The scandals swirling around Juan Carlos have provided ammunition for those wanting to abolish the monarchy.

The far-left party Podemos, which is the junior partner in Spain’s coalition government, has called for a parliamentary investigation into Juan Carlos’s wealth.

Felipe, meanwhile, has sought to distance himself from his father.

Last year the king renounced his inheritance from Juan Carlos, and stripped the ex-monarch of his palace allowance after new details of his allegedly shady dealings emerged.

Polls show support for the monarchy has inched up since Juan Carlos moved abroad although a survey published Sunday in conservative daily La Razon found 42.9 percent of Spaniards feel Juan Carlos’s legal woes were hurting Felipe’s reign.

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