Former Spanish king leaves country amidst corruption scandal
Tuesday, 04 August 2020
Spain’s former king Juan Carlos has departed to an unknown destination amidst an unfolding corruption scandal involving Saudi-Arabian railway companies and Swiss banks.
Carlos, 82, announced his prospective exit to his son King Felipe VI on Monday. In June, the Spanish Supreme Court opened an investigation into Carlos’s involvement in a Saudi high-speed rail project to be built by Spanish contractors.
The railway deal would construct a connection between Mecca and Medina, worth €6.7 billion. Both Mecca and Medina are places of great significance in Islam.
Carlos allegedly received €84.8 million from late Saudi king Abdullah in connection to the contract. Some of the money was then allegedly transferred to a Swiss bank account under the name of Carlos’s former mistress or ‘friend’, Corinna Larsen. In Switzerland, state attorney Yves Bertossa investigated the transfer as part of a money-laundering attempt.
Larsen has been asked to testify on the case in Madrid this September.
Carlos notified his son of his departure in a letter, saying that he made the decision to leave Spain “by the conviction to best serve the people of Spain, its institutions, and you as king”, because “of the public repercussions that certain past events in my private life are generating”.
Before leaving, Juan Carlos said he would be available for interviews if prosecutors needed him. His current location is unknown, though some Spanish media report he might be residing in the Dominican Republic.
In 2014, Juan Carlos abdicated and lost his immunity from prosecution after 40 years of reign following two unrelated scandals. One scandal saw Carlos criticised for hunting for elephants during Spain’s financial crisis in 2012. In 2013, Carlos’ son-in-law was investigated for corruption and embezzling €6 million.
Both cases saw the popularity of the royal dwindle, after being well-respected for restoring democracy in Spain following the death of dictator Franco in 1975.