Bad altitude: Spain’s disgraced former king ‘spent over £7m on flights’


independent–  Spain’s monarchy was plunged into fresh controversy on Tuesday after claims the disgraced former king Juan Carlos paid for private jet flights worth nearly €8m (£7.16m) to the Caribbean, the United States and the Middle East.

The 82-year-old ex-monarch was said to have travelled on 12 private flights to the Bahamas, Abu Dhabi, the Dominican Republic, Kuwait and other destinations between 2009 and 2018.

According to a report in the online newspaper El Confidencial, the flights were paid for from the Lichtenstein-based offshore account Fondation Zagatka, which is under investigation by a Swiss magistrate who is looking into allegations of money laundering.

This account was tied to a Swiss bank account which held about €65m in funds that were described as a donation from the late king of Saudi Arabia to Juan Carlos in 2008.

Two British private jet companies, Air Partner and Netjets UK Ltd, were said to be among those used by the former Spanish monarch during flights around the world but the companies are not linked to the Swiss investigation.

El Confidencial, which reproduced what it claimed was copies of the flight details and prices charged, said Juan Carlos took most of the flights after abdicating in 2014 after a series of financial scandals.

The latest report casts a fresh shadow over the former monarch who has been living in the United Arab Emirates since he left Spain in August to avoid causing further embarrassment to his son, King Felipe.

The scandals clouding the monarchy have prompted renewed calls for a referendum on the future of the institution and splits within Spain’s left-wing coalition government.

Socialist prime minister Pedro Sánchez has supported the monarchy as a stabilising influence on a country facing a deep crisis over the Covid-19 pandemic, while the far-left deputy prime minister Pablo Iglesias called for a republic.

Juan Carlos, who has not been charged with any offence, faces two inquiries in Spain into alleged corruption associated with a €6.7 billion high-speed Saudi train contract won by Spanish firms.

Spain’s supreme court prosecutor is considering whether to extend a corruption investigation into the train contract to formally involve Juan Carlos.

Another probe was launched into whether the former king used credit cards linked to accounts not registered in his name in a possible money-laundering offence.

If proven, the allegations could constitute an offence for which Juan Carlos could be prosecuted given that the movement of funds and use of the credit cards occurred after his abdication, meaning he no longer had immunity as head of state.

A spokesman for the royal household and Javier Sanchez, the ex-monarch’s lawyer, did not reply to a request for comment.

Jose Manuel Garcia, of Ecuentro Estatal Republicano, a national body which opposes the monarchy, said: This is another example that Juan Carlos is corrupt. What most Spaniards want is that he stands trial.”