Spanish Princess, husband to face trial for embezzling $6.7 million
Spain's Princess Cristina and her husband will face trial in a landmark corruption case that has outraged the whole of Spain. Princess Cristina will be the first Spanish royal to face criminal charges in court since the monarchy was reinstated Other than the princess, 17 others will be tried in a case that involves embezzlement of 6.2 million euros ($6.7 million) in public funds.
A not-for-profit organisation Noos presided by Inaki Urdangarin (Princess Cristina's husband) organised a few sporting events for the regional governments of the Balearic Islands and Valencia between 2004- 2006. The central contention was that Mr Urdangarin, accompanied by his business partner Diego Torres, largely overcharged the two regional governments. Noos organisation had allegedly received more than €6 million (£4.4m; $6.5m) of the public money.
Princess Cristina was accused of siphoning almost 1 million euros to Aizoon (a firm she jointly ran with Urdangarin) The funds were used for personal expenses such as trips to "South Africa's Kruger National Park, dance lessons and even Harry Potter books, which reduced the firm's taxable profits, according to court filings." Cristina had also been charged with allegations of tax evasion.
An investigating magistrate on the Balearic island of Majorca made Princess Cristina "an official suspect" in a primary corruption case which involved Inaki Urdangarin, former Olympic handball player (her husband). On being questioned in court, she denied all knowledge of criminal activity, saying that "she trusted her husband." Indicting her, the magistrate said through 'silent collaboration' she'd received '50% stake' in her husband's business.
Spain's King Felipe VI stripped his sister Princess Cristina of her title as Duchess of Palma de Mallorca ahead of her trial on tax-fraud charges. The decision was seen as a step to undo the damage to the monarchy's image because of the corruption scandal. The ceremonial title had been bestowed upon her by her father Juan Carlos at her wedding in 1997.
If the charges are proven, Cristina will face a prison term of up to 8 years while her husband Urdangarin will spend more than 19 years in jail.