How Sean Connery’s underwear fears led to a tax fraud trial in Spain

Judge probing sale of actor’s Marbella property to make way for apartment buildings

Sean Connery and his wife Micheline inside their Marbella home in 1995.
Sean Connery and his wife Micheline inside their Marbella home in 1995.ÁLVARO CÁNOVAS (GETTY)

In the late 1970s, Sean Connery became a resident of Marbella. The Scottish actor and his wife Micheline settled down in Casa Malibú, a property located between the southern resort’s Golden Mile and Puerto Banús.

Back then, the area was still practically undeveloped. The Connerys had discovered the Costa del Sol during its golden days, when Marbella was an international meeting point for high society’s idle classes.

The Connerys’ love story with Marbella began to fade when Mayor Jesús Gil began an aggressive development drive

The estate had been previously owned by the Spanish writer and filmmaker Edgar Neville, and there are photographs showing the happy-looking couple enjoying their home on the coast of Málaga.

But their love story with Marbella began to fade when the late Jesús Gil became mayor in 1991 and began an aggressive development drive in the city.

Seeking to flee the invasion, the couple put their home up for sale in the late 1990s and moved to the Bahamas, where they now reside.

Connery shaving inside the bathroom of his Marbella home in September 1983.
Connery shaving inside the bathroom of his Marbella home in September 1983.Corbis

The man who became world famous as James Bond was annoyed by the increase in the number of neighbors all around Casa Malibú, which affected his privacy.

At an ongoing trial over dubious rezoning procedures and tax fraud in connection with a 72-unit apartment complex that went up where Casa Malibú once stood, this fact was called up on Tuesday by Juan Antonio Roca, a former Marbella city planning official and the mastermind behind a massive corruption scandal known as the Malaya case.

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Neither Sean Connery nor his wife are charged with any crimes in this case. But Micheline is facing a separate trial over alleged tax fraud that could get her a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence.

“These people are not going to see me in my underpants, I am leaving Marbella,” the actor apparently once said, according to Roca. On another occasion, he allegedly told former mayor Jesús Gil that “I will not have the neighbors see me in my underwear.”

One of the exhibits at the trial was a photograph showing Casa Malibú still standing, but flanked by two apartment blocks.

The talks to get the property rezoned for higher-density construction were held between Roca and the Connerys’ lawyer in Marbella, Héctor Díaz-Bastién, who has refused to testify in the case.

Luxury apartments on the site where Casa Malibú once stood.
Luxury apartments on the site where Casa Malibú once stood.cordon press

It took three years to obtain the actor and his wife’s version of events. The examining judge in Marbella was forced to open up a parallel investigation in order to proceed with the case against Micheline Connery. The case against the actor was shelved in February 2014, after Connery, then 83, sent in a sworn statement from the Bahamas asserting that he had played no role in the rezoning talks or in the sale of the apartments that were built on the property.

His wife, who was in charge of running the couple’s affairs – especially those involving the company Malibú S. A. – said her husband “never” got involved in company matters. Her statement said she had given their lawyer orders to “do what was necessary” to secure a zoning status for their property similar to the one next door.

At the Málaga courthouse, the case is referred to by investigators as ‘Goldfinger.’

English version by Susana Urra.

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