SPAIN’S ROYAL FAMILY

Spain’s former king Juan Carlos targeted by new investigation

Supreme Court prosecutors will take over a probe reported to involve credit cards used by the ex-monarch after stepping down from the throne in 2014

Spain's king emeritus Juan Carlos in February.
Spain's king emeritus Juan Carlos in February. / Europa Press

A new investigation involving former Spanish king Juan Carlos I is being transferred to prosecutors at the Supreme Court. Spain’s prosecutor general, Dolores Delgado, made the announcement on Tuesday, shortly after an online daily reported on the case.

No information has been released about the contents of the probe, or whether it affects other members of the royal family. Until now the investigation had been handled by Spain’s Anti-Corruption Prosecution Office.

Juan Carlos, who reigned from 1975 until his abdication in 2014, was already the target of a separate investigation by Supreme Court prosecutors over his role in alleged kickbacks paid to secure a contract to build a high-speed train to Mecca. That investigation is being led by Juan Ignacio Campos, the same prosecutor who will take charge of the new probe.

Credit cards

The announcement by Dolores Delgado came just hours after the online daily elDiario.es reported that Juan Carlos I and several of his relatives were being investigated in connection with the use of credit cards that drew funds from opaque sources. After this news story broke, the Prosecution Office said it would investigate “an alleged leak of information.”

Prosecutorial sources have confirmed that the Anti-Corruption Office has for months been investigating transactions made with credit cards allegedly used by the father of the reigning monarch Felipe VI. These same sources said that other relatives are also under investigation, but that they do not include Juan Carlos' wife Sofía, King Felipe VI or Queen Letizia.

According to elDiario.es, the credit cards drew funds from an account where neither Juan Carlos nor any family member showed up as account holders.

The transactions under investigation were allegedly made in 2016, 2017 and 2018, which is significant because Juan Carlos lost his constitutional immunity when he abdicated in June 2014, and could be prosecuted for wrongdoing committed after that date.

Prosecutorial sources said that the Anti-Corruption Office has investigated several individuals and requested information from banks regarding a large amount of financial transactions involving the suspect credit cards.

In March of this year, Felipe VI renounced any future inheritance from his father in connection with alleged financial irregularities involving Swiss bank accounts and multi-million-euro donations from Saudi Arabia. The reigning monarch also stripped his father of his annual stipend of €194,232.

Juan Carlos served on the throne for 39 years and is widely credited with helping stop the February 23, 1981 coup attempt in Spain. He abdicated the throne in 2014, in the wake of waning popularity fueled in part by a scandal known as Noos and by a hunting trip during which his relationship with a woman named Corinna Larsen emerged. In May 2019 he dropped all official activities and retired from public life.

On August 2 of this year, amid mounting accusations of financial wrongdoing, the king emeritus left the royal residence in Madrid and his whereabouts remained a mystery for two weeks until the Royal Household confirmed that he had settled down in the United Arab Emirates.

English version by Susana Urra.

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