Human Interest

Ex-Spanish king facing probe in alleged Saudi kickback scheme

Madrid, Jun 8 (efe-epa).- Prosecutors at Spain’s Supreme Court have launched an investigation into whether former King Juan Carlos I received illegal kickbacks as part of a contract for a consortium of Spanish companies to build a high-speed train line in Saudi Arabia.

The incidents allegedly took place after the emeritus king abdicated in favor of his son, King Felipe VI, in June 2014, a move that saw him lose immunity from criminal proceedings.

“This investigation focuses, precisely, in establishing or discarding the criminal relevance of the deeds,” the public prosecutor said in a statement Monday.

The anti-corruption prosecutor’s office will investigate the former king’s involvement in connection to the second phase of the construction in 2011 of a high-speed railway that links the cities of Medina and Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Juan Carlos has been accused of receiving millions of dollars in Saudi donations in connection to the infrastructure development.

The investigation is based on proceedings in late 2018 that unveiled kickbacks that were awarded to a consortium of Spanish companies in 2011 in connection to the construction of the so-called AVE of the desert, a nod to Spain’s high-speed rail network.

A recording of a meeting held in London 2015 between King Juan Carlos’ former friend Corinna Larsen and the former Spanish police chief José Villarejo laid bare the former monarch’s alleged financial irregularities.

In the conversation, Larsen said that the king had accounts in Switzerland to which millions would have been transferred in commissions for the construction of the Saudi bullet train.

A few months ago, the anti-corruption prosecutor’s office sent a letter of request to Switzerland to access data on an alleged donation of $ 73 million from a Panamanian foundation — called Lucum and supposedly linked to king Juan Carlos — to a Larsen account.

The proceedings in Spain ran parallel to investigations by Swiss Prosecutors into suspected frontmen of Genevan bank accounts.

In an article published in the Tribune de Genève newspaper a few months ago, the Swiss prosecutor’s office found alleged evidence of the movement of $100 million by several account managers in Switzerland.

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