Urdangarin tells judge king played no part in suspect business dealings

Royal son-in-law testifies before judge for second time in multi-million-euro fraud investigation

Royal son-in-law Iñaki Urdangarin told a judge on Saturday that neither King Juan Carlos nor his family had anything to do with his past business dealings linked to the charitable Nóos Institute.

Appearing before Judge José Castro, Urdangarin testified for the second time in relation to prosecutors' allegations that he and his business partner, Diego Torres, diverted some six million euros in public funds granted to the non-profit foundation by the Balearic Islands and Valencia regional governments. Investigators claim that the Nóos Institute grossly overcharged the local governments to organize sports and tourism events and funneled the money into the businessmen’s pockets via tax havens.

The former Olympic handball player, who is married to the king's daughter, Cristina, is facing embezzlement, forgery and public fraud charges and is accused of using his powerful connections to win public contracts. The case has cast a dark shadow over the Bourbon family. A poll released on Sunday show that a majority of Spaniards believe that the king helped his son-in-law and that Urdangarin's wife, Princess Cristina, had first-hand knowledge of her husband's affairs. The princess has not been questioned in the case.

"The Royal Household had no opinion, didn't advise me, authorize or support any activities for which I was responsible at the Nóos Foundation," the 45-year-old Urdangarin told the investigating judge, reading from a statement, according to court sources.

"On the contrary, when the charges surfaced, the Royal Household recommended that I stop all activities that it did not consider appropriate with regard to my institutional status," he said.

All I did was try to help him to find a job compatible with his position"

Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein

Outside the Palma de Mallorca courtroom, scores of protestors gathered chanting slogans such as "Down with the monarchy!" Police guarded the entrance to the courthouse where the closed-door session was held.

This was Urdangarin's second time before Judge Castro. When he appeared for the first time last August, he gave a brief statement to reporters before entering the courthouse. This time, however, he did not meet with the waiting journalists.

His former partner, Torres, has been releasing a barrage of emails between Urdangarin and others associated with Nóos, the contents of which raise suspicions that the royal son-in-law was still conducting business even after he was ordered to cease by the king.

Several emails show that Urdangarin was negotiating with German Princess Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, a close friend of the king's, for a position at the Laureus organization, which hands out world sports awards.

In an interview published in El Mundo on Sunday, Wittgenstein, who is an international consultant, said all she did was try to help Urdangarin find a job.

"All I did was try to help him, as he asked, to find a job compatible with his position," said the 48-year-old princess who lives in Monaco.

Wittgenstein was thrust into the public spotlight last year when it was discovered that she had accompanied the king on his infamous elephant hunting trip in Botswana, during which he broke his hip.

Also called to testify was Carlos García Revenga, the private secretary to princesses Cristina and Elena, who worked for a time at the Nóos Institute. Judge Castro has officially named him as a target in the investigation.

García Revenga denied that the Zarzuela Palace was fully aware of Urdangarin’s business dealings as Torres’ defense team has maintained.

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