CORRUPTION IN SPAIN

Knowns and unknowns in the Nóos case

After Friday ruling, questions linger regarding future of Cristina de Borbón and Iñaki Urdangarin

Cristina de Borbón, sister of Spanish King Felipe VI, has been acquitted of tax fraud complicity in a high-profile corruption trial known as the Nóos case. Her husband Iñaki Urdangarin, considered one of the masterminds behind a scheme that obtained no-bid contracts from regional governments, has been sentenced to six years and three months in prison.The judgment was entered on Friday, but questions still linger about the future of the people involved in the case.

Cristina de Borbón and Iñaki Urdangarin in Mallorca in February 2016.
Cristina de Borbón and Iñaki Urdangarin in Mallorca in February 2016.ATIENZA (EFE)

WHAT WE DON’T KNOW

Will Iñaki Urdangarin go to prison immediately?

The prosecutor in the case, Pedro Horrach, has said that he will petition the court for provisional remedies against the guilty parties. According to prosecution sources, he will request immediate prison for Urdangarin and Diego Torres, although it will be up to the court to make a final decision on whether or not to apply measures that could range from preventive prison to bail, passport confiscation or an order to show up in court regularly.

Mario Pascual Vives, Urdangarin’s defense attorney, sees no reason for his client to go to prison immediately. “There’s no reason for it, because each of the crimes entails sentences of under three years,” even if the collective figure is over six years, he said outside his law firm in Barcelona on Friday.

Which prison will Urdangarin go to?

Urdangarin, like any other convict, has the legal right to select the penitentiary of his own choice (there are exceptions for cases of terrorism or a court-mandated order saying otherwise).

Will the sentence be appealed?

Urdangarin’s lawyer, Mario Pascual Vives, has suggested in recent days that he will appeal if his client is not satisfied with the ruling. Because he has been sentenced to prison, Urdangarin is likely to want to challenge the decision, although his defense has yet to confirm it. Parties have five working days to file an appeal.

Will Cristina de Borbón give up her rights to the throne?

The Spanish royal has repeatedly rejected entreaties by the king’s closest circle to give up her rights to the throne. The Infanta is sixth in line, so renouncing her rights would have no practical consequences. It would not even affect her children, who would climb one rung in the succession ladder. But Cristina de Borbón has repeatedly said that she will not renounce her inherited rights, precisely because of her children.

WHAT WE DO KNOW

Request for prison

The prosecution will seek immediate entry in prison for Iñaki Urdangarin and Diego Torres, according to sources briefed on the matter. The Attorney General’s Office does not have a single criteria for requesting prison as a provisional remedy. But sources at the Balearic Prosecutor’s Office said that immediate incarceration will be requested for Urdangarin and Torres because the court has handed down sentences of over six years, considered a threshold. The court will take into account whether the guilty parties are a flight risk. It also bears noting that Friday’s judgment is still appealable.

The convictions

Iñaki Urdangarin has been sentenced to six years and three months in prison, and fined €512,000. His associate Diego Torres has been sentenced to eight years and six months in prison, and fined €1,723,843.10.

Why does Torres get a tougher sentence than Urdangarin?

According to the courts, Torres incurred in additional criminal behavior: he evaded over €120,000 in tax by filing personal income as corporate earnings, then used “an international network of companies based in Belize and the United Kingdom to conceal the evaded amounts, transform them, and return them to legal circulation through successive fund transfers that ended up in accounts in his name.”

Acquittal of Cristina de Borbón and Ana María Tejeiro

Cristina de Borbón has been acquitted of two counts of tax fraud complicity that a far-right pressure group called Manos Limpias had charged her with, acting as the private prosecution. She will, however, have to pay a €265,088 fine over her “civil responsibility” in the case. Because she had already deposited a civil bond €587,000 in December 2014, as requested by the prosecution, she will in fact be receiving a €372,000 refund from the state.

Ana María Tejeiro, the wife of Diego Torres, has also been cleared of tax crimes, but fined €344,934.

The court finds that both women were unaware of the tax crimes that their husbands were incurring in, and that “they did not participate in their perpetration.” However, the money that was “concealed, and the taxes withheld” eventually ended up becoming available to both women as personal income. Cristina de Borbón spent €265,088 on a credit card that drew funds from Aizoon, the company set up by her husband to channel Nóos funds. This is the amount that the court is making her return.

Jaume Matas

The former premier of the Balearic Islands has been sentenced to three years and eight months in prison, and barred from holding public office for seven years. The court finds that Matas issued orders to arbitrarily hire the services of Urdangarin’s Nóos Institute because of his high-placed connections, rather than through a public tender for bids. Matas has already done jail time for a related case.

English version by Susana Urra.

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