royal scandal

As trial looms, Princess Cristina says she feels unfairly targeted in tax fraud case

King Felipe’s sister claims ignorance of financial crimes allegedly committed by her husband

Miquel Roca, head of Princess Cristina's defense team
Miquel Roca, head of Princess Cristina's defense teamToni Garriga (EFE)

Princess Cristina, youngest sister to King Felipe VI, stated that the judge targeting her for money laundering and tax fraud has made “a disconcerting decision” that is baseless and aimed solely at keeping the case against her alive “at all costs.”

This assessment forms part of the appeal filed by her defense against a Palma de Mallorca court’s attempt to make her stand trial.

Judge José Castro wants to put Cristina in the dock over her alleged use of money obtained through shady means by her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin.

The former professional handball player, together with a business partner, faces eight criminal charges, including embezzling around €6 million in public money from the regional governments of Valencia and the Balearic Islands through the securing of bidless contracts and charging wildly inflated amounts for sports events.

Cristina’s defense strategy has been to claim that she had no responsibility for the alleged fraud

Much of that money was channeled to Aizoon, a front company jointly owned by Urdangarin and his wife. Cristina de Borbón used company credit cards to pay for personal expenses such as dance lessons and children’s clothing, then claimed them as business expenses in her tax filings, the investigation shows.

After a failed first bid to make her testify in court in connection with the case, Judge Castro managed to interrogate the princess in February of this year, marking the first time in Spain’s democratic history that a member of its royal family has given testimony in a criminal investigation. Last month Castro decided that Cristina de Borbón should face charges after all, bringing her closer to standing trial.

So far, Cristina’s defense strategy has been to claim that she had no responsibility for the alleged fraud, shifting the blame entirely to Urdangarin, who Cristina says was in charge of all business affairs. Urdangarin’s wife, say her lawyers, trusted him completely on all financial matters and was not aware of any alleged wrongdoing. They say she also lacked the technical training to understand the accounting and fiscal aspects of the business, and had no time to take an interest in such issues.

The judge’s decision to continue targeting Cristina is described as “hasty” and “unprecedented” by her defense

“None of the charges has a proper basis,” says the princess’s defense team, which is led by Miquel Roca, one of the founding fathers of the Spanish Constitution. The judge’s decision to continue targeting their client is described as “hasty” and “unprecedented.”

In an appeal filed before the Provincial Court of Palma de Mallorca, Cristina’s defense claims that she is being discriminated against, following the same line of argument as regional anti-corruption attorney Pedro Horrach, who claims she has been targeted “because of who she is.” This case has led to a public confrontation between Judge Castro and Horrach, who until now had worked closely together on corruption investigations such as the Palma Arena case, an offshoot of which eventually ensnared Urdangarin and his wife.

The princess’s defense notes that never in Spanish legal history has a spouse or business partner with no administrative duties been convicted for tax crimes.

The case has further damaged the royal family's image and is thought to be partly the cause of King Juan Carlos' decision to abdicate the throne last month in favor of his son Felipe, who so far remains untainted by any scandals.

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