Saturday Aug 13, 2022
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Scandal-hit ex-king returns for 1st time in 2 years


Nepalnews
AP
2022 May 19, 14:58, MADRID, Spain

Spain’s former King Juan Carlos will return to the country on Thursday for his first visit since leaving nearly two years ago amid a cloud of financial scandals.

The royal household said Juan Carlos would visit the northwestern town of Sanxenxo where a yachting event is scheduled to take place. On Monday the 84-year-old will travel to Madrid, where he is due to meet his son, King Felipe VI, and other members of the royal family.

The statement from the royal palace, sent late Wednesday, said Juan Carlos would return to Abu Dhabi on Monday, describing the city as the place where Juan Carlos had taken up “permanent and stable residence.”

The visit, it added, reflects the former king’s desire to “travel frequently to Spain to visit family and friends.”

Juan Carlos left Spain in August 2020 for Abu Dhabi as Spanish and Swiss prosecutors mounted probes into alleged financial wrongdoings concerning him. The scandals and his departure once again stirred debate over whether Spain should have a monarchy.

The Spanish prosecutors didn’t find evidence to take the former monarch to court because much of the financial misbehavior, involving millions of euros (dollars) in undeclared accounts, happened when Juan Carlos was protected by immunity as Spain’s king, and other possible fraud fell outside the statute of limitations.

The probes allowed the recovery of 5.1 million euros ($5.4 million) in fines and taxes for income that Juan Carlos had failed to declare to Spain’s tax authorities, the prosecutors said in their conclusions.

Swiss prosecutors have also dropped the investigation.

Although the former king was not among those directly investigated in the Swiss probe, prosecutors there said they found that Juan Carlos received in 2008 — before he stepped down as king — the sum of $100 million from the Saudi finance ministry. The case also turned up millions more received by the king or his former lover Corinna Larsen, a Danish-German businesswoman.

In March, he wrote a letter to Felipe expressing his desire to visit family and friends in Spain after Supreme Court prosecutors closed investigations into his financial dealings.

King Juan Carlos, who was not charged at any time, helped steer Spain back to democracy following the death of dictator Gen. Francisco Franco in 1975, making him once Spain’s most respected public figure. But scandals of one type or another involving the family began to mount in the later years of his reign. He abdicated in 2014, ending a 39-year-long term as monarch.

Since becoming king, Felipe has tried to distance himself from his father, removing the former monarch from the royal house’s payroll to help rebuild the Spanish crown’s image.

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