In history books, when what happened is remembered, it will be written that the Spanish democracy of the 21st century was incapable of judging the corruption of King Juan Carlos de Borbón.
The facts are what they are.
It is a fact, not an opinion, that the head of the Spanish State hid a fortune for years in a tax haven; at least one hundred million dollars; money that, when he owed, he did not declare.
It is a fact, not an assumption, that much of that money came from a ‘gift’ from an Arab sheikh, who rewarded our head of state with the equivalent of more than two centuries of the public salary paid by the Spanish. And that this ‘gift’ was neither the first nor the only one he received. He also enjoyed credit cards financed by a Mexican millionaire, or eight million euros in private flights that, in theory, his cousin gave him.
It is another piece of information, not a hypothesis, that the Prosecutor’s Office investigated more than solid evidence of alleged crimes of enormous gravity: money laundering, bribery, influence peddling and tax fraud. Four alleged crimes that the Prosecutor’s Office itself put in writing in a letter rogatory that it sent to Switzerland, as it should be remembered.
It is also an unquestionable truth, not an interpretation, that Juan Carlos de Borbón himself recognized that hidden fortune, those improper gifts and those tax crimes by regularizing, on two occasions, a small part of the money that he had not paid to the Treasury – which It was not prescribed, because the rest never paid. And that he did it with the help of a series of businessmen, courtiers, who simulated a loan of several million that everyone knows that the king emeritus will never repay. All this compromise was done to avoid paying more. Because if that ‘loan’ were considered as a donation, the king would have had to face taxes that there is no record that he ever paid.
It is another fact, not an assumption, that Juan Carlos de Borbón only paid the Treasury when he learned – because all of Spain knew it and the Prosecutor’s Office itself warned him – that the Justice was investigating his payments in black, his money in tax havens or that very high standard of living that his public salary was not nearly enough to cover.
The role of the Prosecutor’s Office in this matter is a national tragedy. The verification that the kingdom of Spain is first a kingdom and then a parliamentary democracy. A tragedy that, like all, can be explained from comedy. “Is it the enemy? Could you stop the war for a moment?” Gila said in one of the most famous monologues of Spanish humor. That same role, tragicomic, is the one that the Prosecutor’s Office has exercised, with its notices to the king emeritus. Some notifications that only served for the king to regularize taxes that, when it was time, he did not declare.
Thanks to these compromises, thanks to the impunity that his constitutional inviolability supposes, Juan Carlos I is going to get rid of the consequences of his actions. Of a criminal investigation that would have taken any of his subjects, without exception.
The Prosecutor’s Office has decided to shelve the entire criminal investigation against the king, after two years sleeping the case in different departments, without ever reporting it to the Supreme Court for him to be charged and summoned him to testify. A part will be filed because it was prescribed and because the king was judicially inviolable while he was head of state. The other, his tricks of recent years, because those two regularizations before the King’s Treasury are enough – says the Prosecutor’s Office – to extinguish any criminal responsibility.
Today Juan Carlos de Borbón can sleep much better. Because the Prosecutor’s Office – in a team made up of several Supreme Court prosecutors and the Chief Anticorruption Prosecutor himself – has decided to amend the Supreme Court’s own jurisprudence, which in another similar case ruled with the opposite criterion to that which it will apply with the King.
A Galician businessman, who had not yet been called to testify as a defendant, was notified by the Prosecutor’s Office that an investigation was underway against him. And that businessman resorted to the same shortcut that the Bourbon took: to quickly regularize that money before the Treasury, in order to avoid a criminal conviction.
On that occasion, the opportunistic maneuver did not slip. And the Supreme Court ruled that the mere notification of the Prosecutor’s Office was enough. A jurisprudence that today that same Prosecutor’s Office does not take into account. That businessman was not called Bourbon.
What happened with this case represents the greatest failure of the Spanish judicial system in the effective fulfillment of that theory that the king himself repeated to us on television. “Justice is the same for everyone,” said Don Juan Carlos. And it was never true.