14 June 2018

Often, we hear of corruption in politics. Initially politicians look for funds to pay for election expenses. Then when they find an opening they begin to use that opening to enrich themselves. Next in line is the senior public offices who often negotiate contracts for the government. They have the avenue of getting kickbacks to enrich themselves. But we seldom hear any royals being involved in any corrupt activity as they do not intervene in the administration of the country. They are also well looked after by the government therefore there is no need for extra money for their expenses.

Here we have a case where a royal has pilfered money belonging the state.

Spain’s Supreme Court sentenced Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball medal winner, for tax fraud, embezzlement and influence peddling in the Noos scandal. The Noos institute is a non-profit foundation, which served as a recipient of regional government contracts and a conduit for diversion of US$7.3 million to private accounts. Urdangarin is married to king’s sister, Cristina de Borbon, for two decades.

Spanish newspaper El Pais reported that Cristina sat on the board of Aizoon, a company allegedly used in the scheme to divert public funds. In 2017, the king’s sister was acquitted of tax fraud complicity with her husband. But Urdangarin was found guilty and ordered to pay a US$ 603,827 fine.

A court in Palma de Mallorca has given five days to Urdangarin to report to the penitentiary of his choice to serve out a five-year, 10-month sentence.

Diego Torres, a former ESADE professor and Urdangarin’s former business partner, was sentenced to five years and eight months.

Former Balearics premier Jaume Matas, who was also found guilty in the case, reported to Aranjuez penitentiary in Madrid where he will spend three years and eight months behind bars. 

When the Nóos scandal broke in November 2011, there was a rift in the royal household which led to the abdication of Juan Carlos in favour of his son Felipe in June 2014.

Urdangarin and his wife Cristina de Borbon were barred from appearing at official events from 2011 and King Felipe then stripped them of their titles of Duke and Duchess of Palma de Mallorca when he came to power. BBC reported.

Urdangarin and Cristina have four children and now live in Geneva.

Frequent government interference in the public prosecution service had made it an object of mistrust in the eyes of the Spanish people.