Spanish anti-corruption prosecutors have questioned an ex-mistress of Spain’s former king Juan Carlos, after reports that she said the monarch received part of an overall commission of 80m euros from a high-speed train contract in Saudi Arabia, her lawyers and Spanish judicial sources said.
Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein was questioned as a witness in London, where she has a home.
The scandal broke last year after Spanish media published recordings of a woman’s voice, attributed to Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, speaking in 2015 with a retired Spanish police chief, José Manuel Villarejo, who is currently in jail for alleged money laundering.
The woman alleged Juan Carlos received a commission after a Spanish consortium was awarded a lucrative contract to build a high-speed AVE rail network linking Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
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Sayn-Wittgenstein has not denied that the voice in the recording is hers, but said she was the victim of a smear campaign.
According to her lawyer, Sayn-Wittgenstein ‘had no participation in the AVE agreement’ and has simply transferred to the Spanish authorities ‘what third parties told her’, although ‘it is clear that a full investigation must go well beyond the few facts she knows’.
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‘Serious accusations in the media about the financial business of King Emeritus have been around for decades. If there is any real intention to properly investigate the AVE agreement and other accusations, it is ultimately a matter of the Spanish judiciary and Spain,’ her lawyer added.
Sayn-Wittgenstein was named in the Spanish press as Juan Carlos’ mistress after she was discovered in his company when he was injured during a secret 2012 elephant hunting trip in Botswana.
The incident is widely seen as the beginning of the fall of Juan Carlos, who abdicated in 2014 at the age of 76 in favour of his son Felipe VI. He retired from public life in June.