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MONARCHY

Spain’s former king Juan Carlos to stay in UAE: royal family

Spain's former king Juan Carlos said he will stay in Abu Dhabi despite the closure of investigations into his financial dealings that led to his self-imposed exile in the UAE, the Spanish royal family announced on Monday.

Spain's former king Juan Carlos to stay in UAE: royal family
Former Spanish king Juan Carlos I says he's "found peace" in In Abu Dhabi. (Photo by CLAUDIO REYES / AFP)

“For now, I prefer for personal reasons which concern nobody but myself, to continue residing in a permanent and stable manner in Abu Dhabi,” Juan Carlos wrote to his son, Spain’s reigning monarch Felipe VI, in a letter published by the royal family.

However, the former Spanish king did add that he intends to visit Spain on a regular basis to see family. 

“It seems timely to me to consider my return to Spain, but not immediately,” Juan Carlos wrote, five days after Spain’s public prosecutor published its decision to drop all three investigations against him.

Juan Carlos went into self-imposed exile in the United Arab Emirates in 2020 amid the probes, which included allegations of possible illegal commissions linked to a high-speed rail project in Saudi Arabia that was awarded to a Spanish consortium in 2011.

While he was never charged with any crime, the probes tainted his reputation and that of the Spanish monarchy.

Felipe has taken steps to distance himself from his father, who abdicated from the Spanish throne in 2014.

In Abu Dhabi, Juan Carlos said he “found peace, in particular for this period of my life even though, naturally, I will frequently come back to Spain”.

Juan Carlos was previously celebrated as a key figure in Spain’s transition to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

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CORRUPTION

Spain shelves probe into €7-billion Saudi rail project contract

Spanish prosecutors have dropped a probe into suspicions Spanish firms paid kickbacks to secure a contract to build a high-speed rail link in Saudi Arabia, a ruling made public Thursday showed.

Spain shelves probe into €7-billion Saudi rail project contract

In 2011, Saudi Arabia awarded the contract worth €6.8 billion($7.2 billion) to a consortium of 12 Spanish companies and two Saudi firms to build the railway linking Islam’s holiest cities, Mecca and Medina.

Spanish prosecutors opened an investigation into the deal after a former mistress of Spain’s former king Juan Carlos was heard in a telephone conversation discussing commissions which were allegedly paid to secure the contract.

Anti-corruption prosecutors decided to shelve the probe “as it was not possible to determine the possible commission of the criminal offence”, according to the ruling dated May 4th.

The information which was gathered is “clearly insufficient”, and was “in part contradictory”, it added.

Juan Carlos was the target of a separate probe over the high-speed railway contract.

The investigation centred on $100 million Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah deposited into a Swiss bank account in 2008, to which Juan Carlos had access.

A unit of the highspeed train built by Spanish manufacturer Talgo is loaded onto a freighter in Barcelona’s port in 2014. (Photo by JOSEP LAGO / AFP)

Prosecutors dropped the probe in March, saying the could not establish “any link” between the receipt of the money and the awarding of the contract.

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

Saudi Arabia opened the 444-kilometre (275-mile) railway to the public in October 2018. It has improved transport connections between Mecca and Medina during the annual haj pilgrimage.

Spanish construction and engineering firm OHL, train maker Talgo and state track operator Adif were among the firms which made part of the consortium that built the railway.

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