Spain’s former king Juan Carlos I has said that he will stay in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, despite the end of investigations into his financial dealings that had led him to ‘flee Spain’ in 2020, the Spanish royal family announced on Monday.
‘At this time, for reasons that belong to my private sphere and that only affect me, I prefer to continue residing permanently in Abu Dhabi, where I have found peace of mind, especially for this period of my life even though, naturally, I will frequently come back to Spain to visit family and friends,’ the monarch wrote to his son, current king Felipe VI. The letter was dated Saturday.
‘It seems timely to me to consider my return to Spain, but not immediately,’ Juan Carlos, 84, added, five days after Spain’s public prosecutor published its decision to drop all three investigations against him. Also read: Spain’s prosecutors drop investigations into finances of former king Juan Carlos.
Juan Carlos wrote that he intends to live on private premises when he returns to Spain and expects to ‘enjoy the greatest privacy possible’.
‘I am aware of the importance to public opinion of past events in my private life and that I sincerely regret, as I also feel legitimate pride in my contribution to democratic co-existence and freedom in Spain, the result of the collective effort and sacrifice of all Spanish people,’ the letter concluded.
Juan Carlos went into self-imposed exile in the UAE in 2020 amid corruption scandals and investigations into his financial affairs, which included allegations of possible illegal commissions linked to a high-speed rail project in Saudi Arabia that was awarded to a Spanish consortium in 2011.
While he was never charged with any crime, the probes tainted his reputation and that of the Spanish monarchy.
The prosecutors didn’t find evidence to take the former monarch to court because much of the financial misbehaviour, involving millions of euros in undeclared accounts, happened when Juan Carlos was protected by immunity as Spain’s king and other possible fraud fell out of the statute of limitations.
The probes allowed the recovery of 5.1 million euros in fines and taxes for income that Juan Carlos had failed to declare to Spain’s tax authorities, the prosecutors said in their conclusions.
Felipe VI has since taken steps to distance himself from his father, who abdicated from the Spanish throne in 2014.
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