Royal trial

Urdangarin admits his real-estate company had ghost employees

Infanta Cristina’s husband denies receiving commissions as Nóos trial questioning starts

Iñaki Urdangarin during the trial in Palma de Mallorca on Friday.
Iñaki Urdangarin during the trial in Palma de Mallorca on Friday.POOL / REUTERS

Iñaki Urdangarin testified on Friday that he never charged anyone commissions while he was operating his non-profit Nóos Institute.

As he begin giving evidence in his embezzlement and fraud trial, Urdangarin, who is accused of allegedly diverting €6.2 million that he and his business partner earned in public contracts to private businesses, also admitted that the Aizoon real-estate company he owned with his wife, the Infanta Cristina de Borbón, had ghost employees.

Earlier this month, Marco Tejeiro, a former accountant at Nóos had told the court that Urdangarin listed the names of family and domestic workers on the Aizoon payroll for tax purposes. Tejeiro was charged in the case, but is cooperating with the prosecution.

“I have never charged anyone any commissions” 

Anti-corruption prosecutor Pedro Horrach, who used his first remarks to try to exonerate the infanta, began his questioning of King Felipe’s brother-in-law by asking him about a series of contracts that the Nóos Institute was granted by the Balearic Islands regional government.

“I have never charged anyone any commissions,” he said in a low voice.

Horrach had been against putting the infanta on the stand at the Palma de Mallorca trial. The obscure right-wing civic group Mano Limpias has filed a private accusation against Cristina.

Urdangarin faces more than 19 years in prison if convicted of all the charges he is facing, which include money laundering and influence peddling.

Cristina de Borbón is on trial alongside him for alleged tax fraud stemming from Aizoon.

Nóos was set up by Urdangarin and his former business partner Diego Torres to organize sporting and tourism events for the regional governments in the Balearic Islands and Valencia.

The entity won millions in public contracts, but prosecutors believe that the two diverted the money to their private businesses through a complicated false billing system.

The former Spanish Olympic handball team player also told the prosecutor that a signature that appears in an Aizoon budget was not his

When prosecutor Pedro Horrach asked the witness about the false billing, Urdangarin said he did not know anything about the system.

Seeking to distance himself from the day-to-day running of the institute and its network of companies, the majority of Urdangarin’s answers consisted of “I suppose so,” “I don’t know,” and “I can’t recall.”

The former Spanish Olympic handball team player also told Horrach that a signature that appears in an Aizoon budget was not his.

Prosecutors believe Aizoon was one of the private companies where some of the money was diverted.

When asked about Torres’ wife, Ana María Tejeiro, who is also standing trial, Urdangarin testified that she never worked at the Nóos Institute.

“She had no fixed role,” said Urdangarin.

“Then, what did she do?” asked Horrach.

“Well, I don’t know. I guess she did personal duties,” the witness responded.

During his own lengthy testimony, which took 25 hours over the course of four days, Torres had also said that Princess Cristina played no active role at the Nóos Institute.

Cristina is expected to testify later next month.

The trial will resume on Wednesday.

English version by Martin Delfín.

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