SHARE
COPY LINK

CORRUPTION

Spain’s former king settles €4 million tax debt from exile

Spain's scandal-hit former king Juan Carlos I, who now lives in exile, has settled a debt of over four million euros with the Spanish tax authorities, daily newspaper El Pais reported Thursday.

Spain's former king settles €4 million tax debt from exile
Photos: GIUSEPPE CACACE/ANDREA SOLARO/AFP

The back taxes were due on the value of flights which he received from a private jet firm until 2018 that he did not declare, the newspaper said, citing anonymous “sources with knowledge of the operation”.

In December the 83-year-old former king, who has lived since August in self-imposed exile in the United Arab Emirates, settled a tax debt of nearly 680,000 euros ($820,000) following a voluntary declaration of previously undisclosed income.

That settlement is linked to a probe made public last month by Spain’s attorney general.

It investigated whether the scandal-hit former king used credit cards linked to accounts not registered in his name -which could constitute a possible money-laundering offence.

The credit card payments took place after Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014, which could mean that he is not shielded by the immunity from prosecution he enjoyed as head of state.

His lawyer Javier Sanchez-Junco announced the December tax settlement but could not be reached by AFP on Thursday to confirm the report of a second settlement.

Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Friday, February 26th that he shared the “rejection” which the “majority” of Spaniards feel towards what he called Juan Carlos’ “uncivic behaviour”.

“An institution is not being judged,” Sanchez said. “What is being questioned is the behaviour of a person.”

He also said the current monarch, Juan Carlos’ son King Felipe VI, had his “full support”.

The former king is the target of two other investigations over his financial dealings, including those linked to a high speed train contract in Saudi Arabia.

Juan Carlos has not been charged with any crime, and his lawyers have said he would return to Spain if required for legal reasons.

A steady drip of revelations about the former king’s love life and lavish lifestyle, combined with the 2018 conviction of his son-in-law for tax fraud and embezzlement, have severely tainted the Spanish monarchy.

Since ascending to the throne in 2014, King Felipe VI (pictured above) has since taken steps to improve the monarchy’s image, such as imposing a “code of conduct” on royals.

Last year he stripped his father, Juan Carlos, of his annual allowance of nearly 200,000 euros after new details of allegedly shady financial dealings emerged.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

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.

SHOW COMMENTS