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Spanish court summons princess to answer tax and money laundering allegations (8 January 2014)

Date: 08/01/2014
Duncan Lewis, Legal News Solicitors, Spanish court summons princess to answer tax and money laundering allegations

Princess Cristina of Spain – the daughter of the ruling king of Spain, 76-year-old King Juan Carlos – has been summoned to appear in court to answer charges in a case involving alleged tax evasion and money laundering.

Princess Cristina sits on the board of her husband’s charitable foundation the Noos Institute.

Her husband – the former Olympic handball player Inaki Urdangarin – is currently being investigated for alleged embezzlement of public funds.

It is alleged that, together with a business partner, Mr Urdangarin embezzled €6 million of public funds via the Noos Institute, of which he is chairman.

The princess and her husband are also joint owners of another company called Aizoon. It is alleged Aizoon served as a front for laundering embezzling funds.

A court in Palma on the island of Majorca has summoned the princess to appear on 8 March.

Examining Magistrate Jose Castro said the 48-year-old princess would be summoned to answer questions as a suspect. The same judge summoned her to appear in a courtroom in early 2013, on suspicion of corruption. On that occasion the prosecutor lodged an appeal and she did not have to appear when Judge Castro’s decision to summon her was overruled.

This latest summons could lead to a criminal prosecution for the princess, although her defence lawyer Miguel Roca has said an appeal will be lodged against the summons.

The case against the princess is the result of allegations made by far-right campaign group Manos Limpias. Spanish law allows civil groups to instigate criminal court cases if charges known as “people’s accusations” are filed. Despite the group alleging the princess is involved in tax evasion and money laundering, the tax authorities in Spain have yet to take action against her and public prosecutors say there is no case to answer.

In Spain, the judge and prosecutor carry out their own investigations and may not necessarily agree on the outcome of these.

Judge Castro has ordered the princess’ financial affairs to be investigated, with her tax returns and bank accounts being examined for evidence of extraordinary expenses involving travel or entertaining which might link her to the allegations.

Judge Castro said:

“Saying ahead of time that Dona Cristina Federica de Borbon did not know of her husband's activities – and the criminal significance of her own – would be as hasty as declaring inexorably the opposite."

Judge Castro says there is evidence that the Noos Institute overcharged for organising events and the proceeds were hidden abroad.

Princess Christina’s husband Inaki Urdangarin denies any wrongdoing and the princess’ defence lawyer said he was convinced of her innocence also.

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