US News Spanish Monarchy: “The king's worst enemy is his own father”

19:35  27 february  2021
19:35  27 february  2021 Source:   liberation.fr

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Juan Carlos à Madrid, en juin 2014. © Daniel Ochoa de Olza Juan Carlos in Madrid, in June 2014.

The entourage of King Emeritus Juan Carlos, expatriate in Abu Dhabi since the summer for his quarrels with the law, perhaps thought that a new "tax regularization" would go unnoticed or contribute to whitewashing the very deteriorated image of the former head of state, in office between 1975 and 2014. But no. As soon as the media announced that Juan Carlos’s lawyers confirmed a payment of more than 4 million euros to the tax authorities, controversy immediately arose. This contribution of money on his own initiative - which according to the daily El Mundo would have been the act of "trusted friends of Juan Carlos" - allows him above all to regularize his fiscal obligations: the king emeritus has benefited from private jet flights, worth approximately 8 million euros, paid for by the Zagatka offshore foundation, based in Liechtenstein and owned by his cousin Alvaro d'Orléans.

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In December, the legal services of Juan Carlos had followed the same strategy, paying the tax authorities 680,000 euros in order to avoid legal proceedings for the fraudulent use of bank cards of his "friend" and Mexican entrepreneur Allen Sanginés-Krause in 2020. Yesterday, even the head of government, Pedro Sánchez, usually very cautious on the issue, was moved: “I share the feeling of rejection in the face of the uncivil activities of the former head of state reported in the media." His right-wing predecessor José Maria Aznar, in power between 1996 and 2004, was also indignant: "If the person who represents an institution does not believe in them, then we have a problem."

An increasingly embarrassing figure

At 83 years old, Juan Carlos is an increasingly embarrassing figure in the Spanish political landscape. And it is even a burden for the socialist government, which wants the maintenance of the monarchy, and even more for the current Casa Real, led by the heir Felipe VI, 53 years old. At the beginning of August 2020, in order not to overshadow his son (in favor of whom he had abdicated in June 2014), Juan Carlos had surreptitiously packed his bags to fly to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, where he has strong supporters.

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The king emeritus accumulates judicial pots, most often for embezzlement. Until the date of his abdication, he was protected by his office. But since then, to his great misfortune, some of his actions have led the justice to indict him. It all started in 2018 when the media revealed a recording three years earlier made by a former police commissioner: an "old dear friend", Corinna Larsen, revealed the existence of illegal commissions, in the order of 100 million euros, paid to Juan Carlos by the Saudi monarchy in 2008 and linked to the installation of the fast train in Mecca. This money, which would then have passed through private foundations, is the Gordian knot that pushes the justice system to shed light on the activities of the King Emeritus, which it suspects to be criminal.

The weakened monarchy

The accumulation of investigations and the disapproval they arouse in Spanish society, hit hard by the pandemic, considerably weaken the monarchy. Certainly, Pedro Sánchez tries to defend against all odds the current king for his "exemplarity, his transparency and the good use of the public funds which he receives". Felipe VI had taken care, in March 2020, to renounce before a notary the paternal heritage, the origin of which was becoming increasingly doubtful. "The king's worst enemy is his own father !" highlights journalist José Antonio Zarzalejos, author of a book on Felipe VI. Tuesday, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the abortive putsch of Lieutenant-Colonel Tejero, the king recalled "the firmness and authority of Juan Carlos I, decisive for the defense of democracy" to the time, that was not enough.

“The Royal House, the King, the authorities are trying to build firewalls to protect the monarchy, underlines journalist Iñigo Saenz de Ugarte. But, the more time passes, the more citizens associate the former king with the penal code, and no longer with the Constitution of which he was the guarantor ! " According to a survey by the 40dB institute, published at the end of 2020, 40.9% of Spaniards are in favor of the return of the republic, against 34.9% for the maintenance of the monarchy. Not to mention that Podemos, who governs in coalition with the Socialists, shoots red balls on the emeritus king. And openly calls for a referendum on the monarchy.

Seriously corona-damaged - tax ruling hits FC Barcelona in the financial hole .
In the dispute over tax advantages for Spanish football clubs, FC Barcelona suffered a defeat in the last instance. The European Court of Justice overturned a ruling by the lower EU court that would have saved FC Barcelona and three other professional clubs (Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao and Atlético Osasuna) back payments. The EU Commission has rightly classified a tax regulation as state aid. © Geert Vanden Wijngaert / Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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