Six members of the Saudi royal family were in Spain on Wednesday for the beginning of a trial against a Spaniard who allegedly appropriated part of their inheritance.
They are the heirs of Prince Saad Bin Abdul Aziz Bin Abderraman Al Saud, who died in 1993, leaving behind several valuable properties in Catalonia.
His agent in the region, Agustín González, is charged with selling off the prince’s Catalan assets after his death, and keeping the proceeds.
A Barcelona judge is presiding the trial against González, who is now 91 and suffering from a mental disease, and his wife Maria Antonia R.T., who is 65.
They are accused of making the equivalent of more than €7 million through the sale of the deceased prince’s real estate, and of taking a further €500,000 from his bank accounts.
The Saudi royal’s possessions included the castles of Rocafort and Rocabruna, in the heart of Catalonia. He also owned two mansions on Barcelona’s Pearson Avenue.
A long love story
The story begins in 1976. Prince Saad Bin Abdul Aziz Bin Abderraman Al Saud arrived in Barcelona for eye surgery and stayed at the Princesa Sofía Hotel. At the time, Ignacio González was the deputy manager of the establishment.
The prince fell in love with Catalonia, and González “fell in love” with the prince. Both men developed “a relationship of trust” that reached its peak in 1989, when the Saudi royal gave González full power of attorney to sell his properties.
In 1991, the prince was diagnosed with cancer and traveled to Houston for treatment. He passed away two years later in Riyadh, a fact that prosecutors view as “triggering the expiration of the power of attorney.”
An agent beyond death
But González did not see it that way, and used his power to sell off the dead prince’s two Barcelona homes. One was bought by former Espanyol player Iván de la Peña, who will testify in the case as a witness.
González also sold both country estates – which came complete with castles, traditional rural homes and stables with horses in them – to a Russian family.
The suspects quickly reinvested the proceeds of the sale into new luxury properties that were registered in the name of González’s wife and son.
González, his wife and their son were briefly arrested in April 2005 in connection with the case.
English version by Susana Urra.