Salvation in the courts of Juan Carlos de Borbón is closer. The Prosecutor’s Office of the Supreme Court finalizes the details of the letter with which it will close the triple investigation that it has developed on the fortune of the king emeritus. In just a few months, investigators have gone from sending letters rogatory to Switzerland – to request documentation from the authorities of that country – where the former monarch was described as an international commission agent and suspected of tax crimes and others related to corruption, to understand now that everything has been buried by its inviolability, by the expiration of some crimes that were investigated and especially by the payments of five million euros that it made to the Treasury to regularize the money hidden from the treasury. It remains to be seen if in their decree to file the case the prosecutors clear up some unknowns, such as whether the monarch has made peace correctly with the Treasury with its fiscal regulations.
A year of notifications and public notices from the Prosecutor’s Office complicate the judicial situation of the king emeritus
The chronology of the case draws an abnormally long and complex investigation for some proceedings opened in Fortuny Street, headquarters of the Prosecutor’s Office in Madrid. The case was placed in the hands of the Supreme Court Prosecutor’s Office on June 8, 2020, a step announced by the Public Ministry itself through a statement. By then, anyway, the fortune and commissions of Juan Carlos I were no mystery to the investigators: the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office headed by Alejandro Luzón had the magnifying glass on the case of the AVE to Mecca since the end of 2018.
Once in the hands of the Supreme Court Prosecutor’s Office, the department headed by Dolores Delgado launched a deployment that was also unusual, even in investigations with international projection. At the head of the investigations was Juan Ignacio Campos, a prosecutor with a long history with his signature stamped in the accusation of corruption cases such as Gürtel, Nóos or Malaya. A prosecutor considered by different sources of the Prosecutor’s Office as impervious to pressure, who was close to the retirement that he could have requested last November. Along with him, Alejandro Luzón, the prosecutor for international cooperation Rosana Morán and prosecutors Paloma Iglesias, José Antonio del Cerro and Juan Carlos López Coig. The justification: the “institutional significance” of the research and its “undeniable technical complexity”. The attorney general of the State, Dolores Delgado, came to describe the investigation as “historic”, while warning of the difficulty of collecting information in different countries, through which the money and financial vehicles of the former head of State have allegedly passed.
A tailor-made but unusual deployment to study a case of international commissions. It was about determining whether the previous monarch charged more than 60 million euros in commissions for intervening in the award to Spanish companies of the construction of the AVE to Saudi Arabia. And also about the formula chosen to hide that money from the treasury and the subsequent movements. From the beginning it was clear to the Prosecutor’s Office that here the inviolability of the monarch worked in their favor: the commission would have arrived in 2008 and Juan Carlos de Borbón did not leave the throne until six years later. Already in November of last year, various information indicated that the Prosecutor’s Office did not see it possible to bring him before the Supreme Court for this case.
It was then that the investigation began to grow and when the possibilities of the investigations began to multiply due to the ramifications of the case. As elDiario.es uncovered on November 3 of last year, the Prosecutor’s Office began to investigate whether the emeritus king and several of his relatives had used opaque credit cards with undeclared funds from the Mexican businessman Allen San Ginés-Krause. Three days later, Dolores Delgado herself announced at a press conference that they had decided to open a third investigation: a report from the anti-money laundering authorities warned of a hidden fortune in the former tax haven of Jersey linked to the king emeritus.
The investigation crossed borders, the presumable file of the investigation began to recede, since it was no longer about events committed during the Head of State, and few of those who were aware of the investigation dared to affirm that the case would be buried. . The deadlines, meanwhile, continued to run and the case dragged on much longer than others on international commissions such as the Voltar-Lassen or DEFEX summaries. Indictive accusations were also increasing in tone: in a letter rogatory sent to Switzerland, for example, prosecutors no longer spoke only of tax crimes but also of bribery, influence peddling and money laundering. They also alluded to the international collection of commissions and a whole bunch of irregularities whose investigation was still in their hands with little or no public information and far from the second chamber of the Supreme Court, the only one competent to investigate the king. An investigation that never came out of the Prosecutor’s Office, which has avoided filing a complaint with the high court.
Payments and notices
One of the many differences between an investigation carried out by the Prosecutor’s Office and the one undertaken in court is that there are no parties to notify the different procedures that are being launched. Only if a complaint is filed or filed. In this case, Juan Carlos de Borbón’s lawyer, former prosecutor Javier Sánchez-Junco, refused to appear in the case and stay out of the way, on paper, of what the Supreme Court prosecutors were doing. Something that allowed him, among other things, to make his own movements without depending on the progress of the investigation. It was then that the payments to the Treasury began to arrive – known almost at the time – and the notifications from the Prosecutor’s Office to the king’s defense, known a posteriori.
This will undoubtedly be a key point in the explanations of the Public Ministry to close the investigations without complaint. On December 9 of last year it transpired that Juan Carlos I had paid 678,393.72 euros “without prior requirement” to the Treasury for the money not paid in taxes when using opaque cards. On February 25 of this year, it was learned that the monarch had paid 4.4 million more for all the flights paid by the Zagatka Foundation of his cousin Álvaro de Orleans. Recognizing, therefore, that he defrauded the treasury. A month ago, the newspaper El País revealed that the Prosecutor’s Office had notified his lawyer of the investigations that had been opened: in June, November and December 2020. According to the newspaper of the Prisa group, “the first two notifications were produced before “that the monarch’s lawyer announced the first regularization, made on December 9, 2020, and” the third was carried out prior to “the second payment of 4.4 million two months later.
The lack of transparency around these notifications forces us to deduce that if the Prosecutor’s Office has opted for the file, it is because it understands that the regularizations are valid and that, therefore, these warnings were either prior to the payments or were so generic that they were not they can be considered a warning. The Supreme Court clearly said in a 2019 ruling that paying the Treasury after learning that an investigation is underway, although the notice “is not totally accurate,” does not free a defendant from the dock.
The Union of Technicians of the Ministry of Finance (GESTHA) understands that a notice and an invitation to appear in a procedure are sufficient for that “automatic blocking effect” of which the Supreme Court spoke. This was assured by his spokesman, Carlos Cruzado, in different interviews shortly after revealing the existence of these notices. Only if they were extremely generic could they validate payments to the Treasury.
All this does not explain, for the moment, what the Prosecutor’s Office thinks of the relationship of the king emeritus with the Zagatka Foundation. The payment of 4.4 million by the emeritus king was related to all the flights that this foundation of his cousin paid him over the years. Money that, as recognized by the entrepreneurs who put in their pockets, was channeled as a loan and not as a donation to avoid paying taxes. Álvaro de Orleans, for his part, denied before the prosecutor Juan Ignacio Campos by videoconference that it was some type of payment and also denied having acted as his front man. The money to regularize before the Treasury came from a group of businessmen who admitted to having simulated a loan in order not to make a donation (since this would again force them to pay taxes). Among the unknowns that this case maintains, it remains to be seen how the previous monarch intends to return those 4.4 million euros, after his son, Felipe VI, announced that the assignment of the Royal Household has been withdrawn.
The Prosecutor’s Office maintains the intention of filing the triple case against the emeritus king but must explain in its writing why it does not report a tax fraud that the monarch himself has recognized with his payments to the Treasury. That is to say, specifying if their notices were before or after these payments, how generic they were and if the prescription and the inviolability of the monarch when he was active close any door to an investigation in the Supreme Court.