Spain’s former king to leave the country amid corruption claims

Juan Carlos’s announcement comes after Spanish court opens investigation into his involvement in a Saudi rail contract.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 01, 2018 Former King Juan Carlos I of Spain waves as he leaves after attending the traditional Easter Sunday Mass of Resurrection in Palma de Mallorca on Apri
The Spanish royal family announced on Monday that former king Juan Carlos would leave Spain [File: Jaime Reina/AFP]

The former monarch of Spain, King Juan Carlos I, says he is leaving to live in another country, weeks after he was linked to an investigation into allegations of corruption.

In June, Spain’s Supreme Court opened an investigation into Juan Carlos’s involvement with a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia after Switzerland’s La Tribune de Geneve newspaper reported he had received $100 million from Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah.

Through his lawyer, Javier Sanchez-Junco, Juan Carlos, who is 82, has declined to comment on the allegations.

Sanchez-Junco said in a brief statement on Monday that the former king had asked him to make clear that even though he will be outside Spain he intends to be available to cooperate with the investigation.

It was not immediately clear whether Juan Carlos was still in Spain, but El Mundo newspaper reported that Juan Carlos had already left the country.

“I am informing you of my considered decision to move, during this period, out of Spain,” Juan Carlos said in a letter to his son King Felipe published on the royal family’s website on Monday.

The former king said he made the decision against the backdrop of “public repercussions of certain episodes of my past private life,” adding that he wanted to ensure he does not make his son’s role difficult.

“My legacy and my own dignity demand that it should be so,” he said without specifying which country he will be moving to. 

King Felipe thanked Juan Carlos for his decision, underlining “the historic importance that his father’s reign represents” for democracy in Spain.

He also reaffirmed “the principles and values on which it (democracy) is based according to our Constitution and legal framework”.

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A ‘disturbing’ investigation

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez recently said he found the developments about Juan Carlos, including investigations in Spain and Switzerland, “disturbing”.

The 82-year-old former king is credited with helping Spain peacefully restore democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

But marred by scandals in the later years of his reign, Juan Carlos in 2014 abdicated in favour of his son Felipe VI, losing the inviolability protection Spain’s constitution grants to the head of state.

FILES) In this file photo taken on July 15, 2008 King Juan Carlos of Spain (R) welcomes King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at the Royal Palace in Madrid on July 15, 2008. The Spanish Royal House announced
The Spanish Supreme Court announced in June the opening of an investigation to establish whether former King Juan Carlos has criminal responsibility in an alleged corruption case when Saudi Arabia entrusted the construction of the Mecca TGV to a Spanish consortium [Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP]

After media reports claimed Felipe was a beneficiary of an offshore account holding an alleged 65 million-euro gift ($76 million) from Saudi Arabia to Juan Carlos, Felipe renounced any future personal inheritance he might receive from the former king. Felipe also stripped his father of his annual stipend of 194,232 euros ($228,000).

The royal house has denied that Felipe had any knowledge of his father’s alleged financial irregularities.

Source: News Agencies