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Spanish Judge Focuses on Princess Cristina in Fraud Case

Source: El Pais El Pais - Tue 7th Jan 2014
Spanish Judge Focuses on Princess Cristina in Fraud Case

The king's daughter, Princess Cristina, has become an official target in an ongoing embezzlement investigation against her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin.

Princess Cristina has been issued a summons to appear in court in Palma de Mallorca on March 8 to explain her involvement in the alleged laundering of public money obtained unlawfully by Urdangarin through a private foundation he set up for that purpose.

Examining Judge José Castro is targeting King Juan Carlos's youngest daughter despite vocal opposition from the anticorruption attorney in the Balearic Islands, Pedro Horrach, who has said that he sees no evidence linking her to Urdangarin's shady business activities.

This is in fact the second time that Castro has made Cristina a formal target of the so-called Nóos case investigation; a first attempt in April of last year was blocked by the Provincial Court of Palma de Mallorca, where the judge's inquiry is taking place. There is a chance that this court will stop the process once more to prevent the princess from testifying in court.

Urdangarin and his business partner, Diego Torres, are thought to have siphoned off 5.8 million euros in public money from the governments of Valencia and the Balearics between 2004 and 2006. The partners earned government contracts for sports and tourism events without official bids through their non-profit Nóos Institute, and then channeled much of the money to privately owned companies and offshore tax havens, after overcharging for services which were sometimes nonexistent, according to the investigation.

Prosecutor Horrach wants a 12-year conviction for Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball player who married Princess Cristina in 1997.

Judge Castro has spent nine months minutely reconstructing the financial life story of the king's daughter through her bank accounts, credit cards, bills, properties and tax filings to determine whether there is enough evidence to target her as a suspect. While Horrach holds that she was unaware of her husband's activities, Castro notes that Cristina used credit cards that drew funds from the Nóos Institute, and that the couple renovated their multi-million-euro mansion in downtown Barcelona using money from the same source. Princess Cristina also sat on the board of Aizoon, a company that apparently existed solely to receive funds from Nóos.

Judge Castro has stated that Cristina should testify for two reasons: to clear up the lingering question marks about her role in the case, and to uphold the axiom that "justice is the same for everyone."

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