Spain Will Probe Whether Ex-King Took Kickbacks From Saudi Arabia

Prosecutors at Spain’s Supreme Court announced on Monday that they will investigate whether former King Juan Carlos I was bribed by Saudi Arabia to facilitate the construction of a bullet train by a Spanish railway company.

Juan Carlos I copySpain's former King Juan Carlos I faces a new investigation from Spanish prosecutors. (Credit: Carlos Alvarez, CC BY-SA 2.0)“The investigation refers to Phase II of the construction of the high-speed railway line, the so-called "desert AVE" that connects the cities of Medina and Mecca, in Saudi Arabia,” a statement from the prosecution office said.

The scandal-plagued ex-monarch, who abdicated the throne in 2014, had already been under investigation by Swiss prosecutors who were looking into funds that had been flowing into his Panama-based entity called the Lucum Foundation. 

Swiss prosecutors uncovered nearly US$100 million that was allegedly transferred into offshore bank accounts of King Juan Carlos by Saudi Arabia's late King Abdullah in 2008. Spanish prosecutors are now looking into whether this money was a commission for mediating a railway contract as far back as 2008. 

 Spanish prosecutors are investigating whether any of the former king’s illicit financial activity may have occurred after he left the throne to his son, King Felipe VI. If this is uncovered, he would not be protected under the prosecutorial immunity he had while serving as the country’s monarch.  

“This investigation focuses, precisely, on establishing or discarding the criminal relevance of deeds that happened after June 2014, when the King Emeritus was no longer protected by inviolability,” the statement said. 

Worth $3.5 billion according to Forbes, there are some indications that Juan Carlos is preparing to flee from authorities if he is found to be guilty in any of the ongoing investigations.

According to Diario16, sources in the Dominican Republic told the outlet that the ex-monarch is preparing to establish residence in the country’s exclusive La Romana neighborhood, where former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González, Jesús Barderas, Carlos Slim, the Clinton family, and Joe Biden also have properties. 

The outlet explains that due to extradition agreements between the two countries, it appears as though Juan Carlos would remain safe from being forced to return to face charges if he manages to establish residency in the Caribbean country.