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King's sister pays €587k bond in fraud case

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King's sister pays €587k bond in fraud case
Spain's Princess Cristina, left, and her husband Iñaki Urdangarin. Photo: AFP
15:00 CET+01:00
Princess Cristina, the sister of Spain's King Felipe on Monday paid a civil bond of nearly €600,000 as she attempts to clear her name in a long-running corruption scandal.

The princess paid the €587,413 ($729,500) public liability bond after a recent demand from the public prosecutor in the case, Pedro Horrach, Spain's 20 minutos newspaper reported. 

The sum totals half the funds allegedly obtained illegally via Aizoon, a company Cristina jointly held with her husband Iñaki Urdangarin and which investigators say was used as a front for laundering public money embezzled from a charitable sports foundation. 

Cristina's lawyer, Miquel Roca, had earlier said the money would be paid immediately to free Cristina of "both civil and criminal responsibility". 

Cristina is still facing two charges of tax fraud in the case which has damaged the Spanish monarchy. A judge is set to decide if she will appear before Christmas.

The judge has a discretionary power that allows for people who have not been accused by a public prosecutor to have charges against them dropped. In the case of Cristina, the charges were brought by the right-wing, anti-corruption group Manos Limpias.    

Horrach has repeatedly said that while Cristina benefitted from funds obtained via Aizoon, there is not enough evidence to try the princess, and that charges against her are the result of public pressure.

He has however, asked for Cristina's husband Urdangarin to spend nearly 20 years in prison.

Princess Cristina has been charged with 16 others, including her husband, of embezzling public funds worth €6.1 million through the Nóos Institute after a two-and-a-half-year investigation led by Judge José Castro.

Nóos organised sports and leisure events and conferences, allegedly charging inflated sums to regional governments in Valencia and the Balearic Islands and siphoning off the money despite officially being a non-profit company. 

The supposedly charitable organisation was headed by the 46-year-old Urdangarin, a former Olympic medal-winning handball player, between 2003 and 2006. His former partner, Diego Torres, is also suspected of fraud and embezzlement.

Investigators suspect that a separate company jointly owned by the couple, Aizoon, served as a front for laundering embezzled money which Nóos had first secreted away in tax havens. Part of the basis of the money-laundering charge against the princess was that she had spent money from the Aizoon account to cover family expenses.

Aizoon allegedly defrauded the tax man to the tune of €337,138.

Cristina sat on the board of Nóos and Urdangarin was its chairman, but said in court in February she had no knowledge of her husband's business affairs.

A mother of four with a master's degree from New York University, Cristina was once considered untouchable as a member of the royal family.

But the so-called Nóos affair fanned public anger against the monarchy and ruling class during the recent years of economic hardship in Spain.

Urdangarin and Cristina have been excluded from royal activities since 2011. 

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