Spain’s courts shelve all probes into ex-king’s finances

Spanish prosecutors have dropped all investigations into the finances of former king Juan Carlos which prompted him to flee the country into exile in 2020, court documents showed Wednesday.

Spain's courts shelve all probes into ex-king's finances
Spain's King Felipe VI and his father Juan Carlos I salute during Epiphany Day celebrations in 2018. The court's decision means the 84-year-old former monarch could return from exile in the United Arab Emirates.(Photo by Juanjo Martín / POOL / AFP)

“The investigation.. does not, in the Prosecutor’s opinion, allow for any criminal action to be brought against His Majesty Juan Carlos,” said the legal document released by the public prosecutor’s office.

The move could pave the way for the 84-year-old former monarch to return from exile in the United Arab Emirates.

Since December 2018, prosecutors have opened three separate investigations into the former king’s finances but shelved all of them for reasons including “the lack of incriminating evidence, the statute of limitations, the inviolability of the head of state and tax regularisation” payments he made in recent years.

Lawyer Javier Sanchez-Junco, whose firm was representing the former royal, confirmed the decision, saying prosecutors had concluded that “in none of the cases.. did they find any wrongdoing that could be attributed to King Juan Carlos or conduct that could be subject to criminal prosecution”.

Investigators initially began probing his finances over possible illegal commissions linked to a high-speed rail project in Saudi Arabia that was awarded to a Spanish consortium in 2011.

The suspicions centre on $100 million (€87 million) that Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah deposited into a Swiss bank account in 2008, to which Juan Carlos had access.

But the public prosecutor’s office said investigators “had not been able to establish, even indirectly, any link between the aforementioned payment.. and the awarding of a construction contract for a high-speed railway line in Saudi Arabia”.

Swiss prosecutors had also opened a probe into the same issue in 2018 but dropped the case in December for lack of evidence.

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Extremist deported after living in Spain for 30 years

Spanish authorities have deported a Moroccan Muslim activist who has lived in the country since he was ten, after accusing him of being one of the "main advocates" of the Salafist movement of ultra-conservative Islamism in Spain.

Extremist deported after living in Spain for 30 years

The 40-year-old was deported to Morocco on Saturday morning after he was held for several weeks at a deportation centre in Barcelona, a police source told AFP.

Officers arrested Mohamed Said Badaoui last month in the northeastern province of Tarragona, where he was the president of the Association for the Defence of the Rights of the Muslim Community.

A Spanish court in late October approved his deportation due to “his participation in activities contrary to national security” and “public order”.

Spanish police consider Badaoui to be “one of the main advocates in Spain of the most orthodox Salafism, which he preaches so influentially that an increase in radicalism occurred in Tarragona” since he moved there, according to its ruling.

Badaoui arrived in Spain at the age of ten from Morocco and has lived in the Catalan city of Reus for 30 years, where he has a wife and three children.

Police also accused him of “taking advantage” of the “vulnerability” of minors who arrive in Spain without their parents, “mainly of Moroccan origin”, to indoctrinate them in the “most radical Salafism,” which promotes a strictly conservative lifestyle.

Badaoui has rejected these accusations. Well-known in Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia where he has lived for nearly three decades, he presents himself as an activist and anti-racism campaigner.

He has been supported by Catalonia’s main separatist parties which govern the region as well as by the regional branch of far-left party Podemos, the junior partner in Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s coalition government.