The finances of Princess Cristina, with bodyguards, and her husband are under investigation. Samuel Aranda for The New York Times
sexta-feira, 14 de fevereiro de 2014
In Royal Drama, Spain Sees Its Reality Reflected.Rei de Espanha retoma agenda internacional com visita a Portugal
In Royal Drama, Spain Sees Its Reality Reflected
By DOREEN CARVAJAL and SILVIA TAULÉSFEB. 6, 2014 / The New York Times / http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/07/world/europe/in-royal-drama-spain-sees-its-reality-reflected.html?src=rechp&_r=0
BARCELONA, Spain — Once upon a time, Spain’s Princess Cristina and her husband lived a life of royal splendor. Ensconced in a hillside mansion with a saltwater swimming pool outside Barcelona, they jaunted off to sailing regattas and charity balls with the Spanish elite.
Now, as the princess prepares to testify before a judge on Saturday, the couple’s storybook life is being exposed as something far more familiar to Spaniards: a chimera of wealth and high living built on credit-card spending sprees, mortgage debt and, potentially, tax evasion and money laundering.
The appearance of Princess Cristina, 48, will be the first time that a direct member of Spain’s royal family has been called to account in such a common way, as she is made to answer questions about her spending habits, large and small, before a judge investigating the business dealings of her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, the Duke of Palma.
In November, the couple lost their home of nine years when it and three other properties were seized for a civil bond of more than $10 million that her husband and his now-estranged business partner, Diego Torres, were forced to pay as they defend against accusations of using royal connections to gain no-bid contracts from Spain’s regional governments to run sports conferences, and then laundering millions of euros in profits off shore.
Even as the case stokes debate about whether Spain’s aristocrats are held to the same judicial standards as others, it has become a morality tale of excess whose themes are common enough in a country where the receding economic tide since 2008 has exposed corruption and mismanagement all around.
In a summary of more than 200 pages, the judge calculated that the remodeling of one floor of the princess’s dream house — the little palace, as it is known here — was paid for with $596,000 in credit card charges attached to a real estate company owned by the princess and her husband called Aizoon. There were receipts for $57,000 for art, decorations, appliances and rugs. She also paid $269,000 for an architect and $12,500 for curtains.
“In summary, Aizoon practiced commercial and fiscal policies that were totally irregular and contrary to current regulations,” the judge wrote. Over an eight-year period dating back to 2004, he noted, the princess made purchases from her own pocket for a total of about $4,000. The rest were paid with the company credit card.
The mansion outside Barcelona where Cristina lives with her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, the Duke of Palma. Samuel Aranda for The New York Times
The question the judge is investigating is whether some of the money her husband is accused of embezzling, according to investigators, was funneled to essentially a shell real estate company, which they owned jointly.
But the princess will almost certainly face other questions: Did she know the source of the money that funded huge credit card purchases for her house? And did her father, King Juan Carlos, give her $1.6 million as a loan, or actually a taxable gift?
Before the princess has even set foot in the closed hearing in Palma de Mallorca, the prospect of her testimony has divided Spanish society. Some have used the long-building scandal to fuel calls for the abdication of the 76-year-old king.
Others have rushed to Cristina’s defense, including Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who in a rare television interview in January said that he was “convinced of the innocence of the princess” and that she should not renounce her title because of the scandal, as critics of the palace have demanded.
The Spanish press has obsessively tracked whether the princess will suffer the humiliation of having to enter the courthouse through a common passageway — a kind of royal perp walk — where her husband was earlier jeered. Finally, last week, a senior magistrate declared that rather than walking, the princess could be chauffeured down the courthouse ramp by car, citing security concerns.
A judge has also banned the customary videotaping of testimony, as well as the use of cellphones, tablets and computers in the courtroom by anyone, including the investigating judge.
The one thing about which royal supporters and critics agree, however, is that the case has chipped the patina of invulnerability that once surrounded the House of Borbón.
For the princess, the loss of their fairy-tale mansion in the exclusive Pedralbes district of northern Barcelona was an especially ignominious blow. Today, the mansion stands empty. The couple have moved with their four children to Geneva.
The princess and her husband purchased the three-story contemporary villa in 2004 for more than $8 million. It was the start of the restyling of the duke, from a former Olympic team handball athlete into a sports event consultant and entrepreneur.
Miquel Roca, a lawyer for the princess, declined to comment on the case. In the past, though, he has denied that the princess has done anything wrong and insisted that she simply seeks swift justice.
Mr. Torres, the former business partner under investigation with the duke, has also given notice to the court that the princess does not deserve to be prosecuted. But he remains a gadfly in the royal tale, having supplied investigators with information collected from an encrypted company computer hard drive.
His lawyer, Manuel González Peeters, said that they continued to find new information as they sifted through documents, including more than 200,000 emails.
“The huge collection of documents demonstrates what I have been saying from the very beginning,” Mr. González said. He argues that the royal palace monitored everything involving the couple. Spanish intelligence agents appeared twice a month to copy information on the company computers, according to the lawyer.
Some of those documents show that early on the royal palace showed great interest in the mansion. One document is a mortgage summary listing the $1.6 million contribution from the king as a “donación” or a gift to help purchase the Barcelona house. Previously, the royal household had characterized the contribution as a notarized loan, which would not be taxable.
In turn, a 2004 letter offered advice for explaining the purchase of the mansion to the news media.
“Like many Spaniards, they are purchasing their home with credit,” according to talking points sent in an email from Princess Cristina’s private secretary, Carlos García Revenga, to the duke. “Present it so it is natural to buy real estate with all the risks of debt that young people have today.”
Rei de Espanha retoma agenda internacional com visita a Portugal
Por Sara Sanz Pinto
publicado em 12 Fev 2014 / in (jornal) i online
Em Espanha há quem defenda que Juan Carlos deve abdicar do trono para salvar a monarquia, mas o rei tenta mostrar em Lisboa que ainda está apto
O rei de Espanha chegou ontem a Portugal para participar no IX Encontro COTEC Europa, que conta também com as presenças de Cavaco Silva e do presidente italiano, Giorgio Napolitano. Desde Junho de 2013, quando visitou Marrocos, que Juan Carlos, ainda a recuperar das cirurgias a que foi submetido, não fazia uma viagem oficial e escolheu Portugal para retomar a sua agenda, em plena crise monárquica em Espanha, onde se continua a discutir se a melhor solução não passará por Juan Carlos abdicar a favor do filho, ao mesmo tempo que uma das filhas do rei é acusada num caso de fraude fiscal e de lavagem de dinheiro.
O rei de Espanha vem a Lisboa participar na iniciativa da COTEC, que conta ainda com a presença do vice-presidente da Comissão Europeia, António Tajani, e dos presidentes da COTEC Espanha, Itália e Portugal. De acordo com a associação, o objectivo do encontro anual é "promover o intercâmbio de experiências e a cooperação entre empresários e representantes políticos" de Espanha, Itália e Portugal em matéria de inovação.
Após ter estado reunido na noite de segunda-feira, durante várias horas, com a infanta Cristina, imputada no caso Nóos e que tinha estado nesse dia em tribunal, Juan Carlos aterrou ontem por volta das 17h30 em Figo Maduro, acompanhado do ministro espanhol da Indústria, da Energia e do Turismo, José Manuel Soria, do chefe da casa real, Rafael Spottorno, e da rainha Sofia, que, segundo a imprensa espanhola, não fazia inicialmente parte da comitiva. Esta é assim a primeira viagem do casal desde Outubro de 2011.
Na sua última deslocação oficial, em Junho de 2013, o monarca quis mostrar que estava a recuperar bem da operação à coluna a que se tinha submetido em Março, mas no regresso a Espanha começou a ter novas queixas e foi novamente operado. Agora, com a visita a Portugal, o rei quer, de acordo com a imprensa espanhola, acabar com os rumores sobre o seu estado de saúde, que surgem sempre que é internado. A deslocação cumpre os requisitos que o médico Miguel Cabanela, que o operou nas duas últimas ocasiões, estabeleceu para a recuperação. Segundo o especialista, o rei não pode ainda fazer viagens muito longas. Juan Carlos tem pendentes uma visita a Paris, para se reunir com o chefe de Estado francês, François Hollande, e outra à Arábia Saudita.
Antes do jantar no Palácio Cidadela, em Cascais, com o Presidente português, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, e com o seu homólogo italiano, Giorgio Napolitano, Juan Carlos teve ainda um encontro privado com o ex-Presidente Mário Soares. Hoje de manhã vai discursar no fecho do encontro da COTEC, para depois regressar a Espanha para no dia seguinte receber no Palácio da Zarzuela os representantes da Conferência dos Presidentes das Organizações Judaicas dos Estados Unidos.
Ainda ontem o advogado da infanta Cristina disse estar à espera que a justiça resolva o caso Nóos "sem nenhum tipo de pressões", sublinhando que cabe ao juiz tomar uma decisão sobre quem "pulou o mecanismo" ao gravar um vídeo durante a audiência de sábado, na qual, segundo o "El Mundo", a filha mais nova de Juan Carlos se apresentou como a esposa ingénua. Cristina afirmou que "sabia o que Iñaki [Urdangarin] fazia", mas, e paradoxalmente, desconhecia que se dedicasse à Nóos. Algo muito importante do ponto de vista processual, uma vez que a infanta pertencia ao conselho de direcção do Instituto que se apropriou de mais de 6 milhões de euros de dinheiro público.