[QODLink]
Europe
Spanish royal charged in fraud case
Inaki Urdangarin, the Duke of Palma, charged after investigation into embezzlement of millions from public funds.
Last Modified: 29 Dec 2011 17:58
Inaki Urdangarin was investigated for the alleged misuse of millions of euros in public funds [AFP]

The Spanish king's son-in-law was charged in a fraud and embezzlement case that has damaged the royal family, which this week took the uprecedented step of disclosing its income.

The Palma de Mallorca court on Thursday did not specify the charges against Inaki Urdangarin, the Duke of Palma, a retired Olympic handball player married to King Juan Carlos's younger daughter, the Infanta Cristina.

It ordered him to testify in an investigation into alleged misuse of millions of euros in public funds at his non-profit Noos Institute, which he ran from 2004 to 2006.

Urdangarin has denied wrongdoing, but he apologised publicly this month for the embarrassment his legal problems were causing the royal family, which he said had nothing to do with his business affairs. 

The investigation found evidence of misuse of public funds, forgery and fraud in 2003 to 2006, a period when Noos had income of $19.4m, according to local press reports. 

They said Noos organised two tourism conferences for the Balearic Islands, charging $2.9m, and channelled more than half of that money to for-profit companies owned by Urdangarin or his business partners, for items such as logistical support. 

'Absolute respect'

The same pattern was detected in sports summits staged in Valencia. The probe also found that Urdangarin's companies were not able to justify the payments, the press reports said. 

The royal family has "absolute respect" for court decisions, a spokesman said. 

The case against the duke is one of several big fraud scandals in Spanish courts, most of them dating to the real estate and urban development boom before the global financial crisis when local governments went on spending sprees. 

Spain's royals have distanced the duke from official events. He and his wife and four children moved in 2009 to Washington, where he represents Spanish telecoms group Telefonica. 

In a display of transparency apparently prompted by the case, the royal family disclosed income details on Wednesday for the first time, showing that the king and his immediate family received more than $1m last year for personal expenses. 

King admired

Most of their living expenses, including housing, official travel, security, state dinners, utility bills, palace staff and transportation, are covered under other budgets, such as the foreign ministry, the interior ministry and the presidency. 

A monthly opinion poll by the Social Research Centre, or CIS, shows that the historically high approval ratings for the royal family have fallen this year. 

King Juan Carlos, 73, is well liked and widely respected for overseeing the country's tense transition to democracy following Francisco Franco's nearly four-decade-long dictatorship. His son, Prince Felipe, is heir to the throne. 

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Venezuela's president lacks the charisma and cult of personality maintained by the late Hugo Chavez.
Despite the Geneva deal, anti-government protesters in Ukraine's eastern regions don't intend to leave any time soon.
Since independence, Zimbabwe has faced food shortages, hyperinflation - and several political crises.
After a sit-in protest at Poland's parliament, lawmakers are set to raise government aid to carers of disabled youth.
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
join our mailing list