Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Judge Accuses Spanish Princess of Money Laundering and Tax Fraud
PARIS — Princess Cristina, the younger daughter of King Juan Carlos of Spain, was formally accused of money laundering and tax fraud by a magistrate on Tuesday and was summoned to appear in court on March 8. She is the first close relative of a Spanish monarch in modern history to face the prospect of a criminal trial.
The accusations arise from a long-running corruption investigation that has also ensnared the princess’s husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, a businessman and former Olympic handball player who is fighting charges of fraud, tax evasion and embezzlement. Both the princess and Mr. Urdangarin, who has been accused of embezzling 6 million euros, about $8.2 million, in government money though a foundation he set up to organize sports conferences, have publicly denied the charges.
José Castro, an examining magistrate from Palma, Majorca, lodged the accusations against the princess in a 200-page ruling.
The widely publicized investigation has badly dented the standing of the royal family with the Spanish public. In a new poll by Sigma Dos, a broad majority said they believe the monarchy mishandled the case, and many of them said they think the king, who is 76, should abdicate.
The case against Princess Cristina, 48, has been marked by public sparring among legal authorities. Mr. Castro’s ruling challenged the recommendations of an anticorruption prosecutor, who said last month that there was no evidence the princess had committed crimes.
Mr. Castro, who has been pursuing the investigation for more than three years, accused the princess once before, only to have the accusations set aside by a higher court, which gave more time to Mr. Castro to investigate.
He has been concentrating on the personal finances of the princess for the last nine months, including her purchase of a mansion in Barcelona.
The princess was a director of her husband’s institute, and the couple jointly owned a real estate company, Aizoon, which investigators suspect was a front for money laundering and tax evasion.