Spanish Princess Acquitted but Husband Jailed for Tax Fraud
The husband of Spain's Princess Cristina will spend more than six years in prison for using his royal connections to embezzle more than € 6 million (US$ 6.6 million) of public money, media reported Friday.
The Majorca court cleared Princess Cristina—the sister of King Felipe VI —in the tax fraud case involving her husband Inaki Urdangarin’s non-profit organization, the Noos Institute.
Judges found that Urdangarin, a former Olympian, had used his royal connections to win contracts for his institute which organized conferences and sports events for a range of clients, including regional governments, media reported.
The former Duke of Palma would then overcharge his clients and stash the money away in his personal accounts hidden in tax havens.
Prosecutors said some of that money was transferred to the Aizoon real estate firm—jointly owned by Cristina and Urdangarin—and was used to pay for family holidays, redecoration and theater tickets.
The court fined Cristina more than € 265,000 (US$ 280,000) for indirectly benefiting from her husband's fraud.
Urdagarin's business partner Diego Torres and a former government minister were also both found guilty and sentenced to jail time.
In total there were 16 defendants in this case, nine of whom were acquitted, including Cristina.
Cristina's lawyer has said she is "satisfied with the acknowledgement of her innocence," but still believes her husband is not guilty.
After learning of the sentence, a spokesman for the royal family told Spanish media that they have the "maximum respect for the independence of the power of the judiciary."
Princess Cristina is the first Spanish royal to stand trial since the monarchy was re-established in 1975.
The case, which began in 2010 at the height of Spain’s economic crisis, soon became a symbol of corruption amongst the out of touch Spanish elites.
When the princess was indicted two years ago, King Felipe VI stripped his sister of her title.