King empire

Spanish prosecutor drops investigations into former king Juan Carlos

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s national prosecutor’s office has dropped two investigations into allegations of fraud in the business dealings of former king Juan Carlos after failing to find sufficient evidence of criminal activity, it said Wednesday.

Juan Carlos, 84, who left Spain for the United Arab Emirates under a cloud of scandal in August 2020, has been the subject of multiple investigations for money laundering by Spanish and Swiss authorities in the last two years.

Spain’s decision to close the two investigations, related to payments allegedly received for a high-speed train contract in Saudi Arabia and an offshore account in Jersey, follows a similar decision by Swiss prosecutors last December.

In a statement, the prosecutor said he was unable to show a link between a 65 million euro ($72 million) payment received by the former king and the award of the lucrative contract. Saudi railway to a consortium of Spanish companies.

Even if the prosecutor could prove any wrongdoing, the activities would not be statute barred and Juan Carlos would have enjoyed constitutional immunity as a monarch at the time, he said.

Juan Carlos paid around 5.1 million euros in back taxes following the investigation, the prosecutor added.

The former king’s lawyer said the prosecutor failed to prove wrongdoing or criminal behavior.

Juan Carlos ascended the throne in 1975 after the death of General Francisco Franco and was widely respected for his role in helping guide Spain from dictatorship to democracy.

But his popularity plummeted in the following years due to a series of scandals, prompting his resignation in 2014.

($1 = 0.9022 euros)

(Reporting by Emma Pinedo and Nathan AllenEditing by Mark Heinrich)