1st December 2023
Former King Juan Carlos I of Spain
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Spain’s prosecutors drop investigations into finances of former king Juan Carlos

Spanish prosecutors have now dropped all investigations into the finances of Spain’s former king, Juan Carlos I, which had led him to ‘flee Spain’ in 2020, following corruption scandals. 

Prosecutors at the Supreme Court said that they didn’t find evidence that could be prosecuted, because the monarch was protected by immunity until his abdication eight years ago, and because any possible fraud fell out of the statute of limitations.

‘The investigation … does not, in the Prosecutor’s opinion, allow for any criminal action to be brought against His Majesty Juan Carlos,’ stated the legal document released by the public prosecutor’s office.

The decision could now pave the way for the 84-year-old former monarch to return from his current exile in the United Arab Emirates.

The investigations allowed for the recovery of €5.1 million  in fines and taxes for income that Juan Carlos had failed to declare to Spain’s tax authorities, the prosecutors said in their conclusions.

In February 2021, it was revealed that the former king of Spain had paid the tax office €4.3m for previously undeclared income, including flights on a private jet.

Since December 2018, prosecutors had opened three separate investigations into the former king’s finances but shelved all of them for reasons including ‘the lack of incriminating evidence, the statute of limitations, the inviolability of the head of state and tax regularisation’ payments he made in recent years.

One of the probes also involved offshore accounts in Jersey, a tax haven, that the prosecutors said couldn’t currently be linked to Juan Carlos.

The other one revolved around a €65 million payment that was suspected to be a commission for the former monarch’s mediation in a high-speed railway contract between the Saudi Arabian cities of Medina and Mecca. However, prosecutors said they couldn’t find a link between the ‘gift’ given to Juan Carlos and the project, which was executed by a Spanish consortium.

A separate Swiss investigation on money laundering involving some of the funds was also dropped last year, although Geneva prosecutors later fined a Swiss bank for failing to alert authorities on Juan Carlos’ transactions. Also read: Swiss prosecutors close corruption probe against Spain’s former king Juan Carlos

Lawyer Javier Sanchez-Junco, whose firm is representing the former monarch, said that prosecutors had concluded that ‘in none of the cases … did they find any wrongdoing that could be attributed to King Juan Carlos or conduct that could be subject to criminal prosecution’.

Juan Carlos abdicated in favour of his son Felipe VI in 2014 following a series of scandals in the royal family. Since becoming king, Felipe has tried to distance himself from his father, removing the former monarch from the royal house’s payroll as he tries to rebuild the Spanish crown’s image.

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