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Originally published February 23, 2013 at 6:54 PM | Page modified February 23, 2013 at 6:54 PM

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Spain investigating king’s kin for fraud

The son-in-law of Spain’s King Juan Carlos is being investigated to see if he used his royal credentials to secure inflated, no-bid contracts and then diverted millions of euros into other companies and offshore accounts.

The New York Times

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MADRID — A son-in-law of Spain’s King Juan Carlos I denied Saturday that his wife and other members of the Spanish royal household had any direct involvement in his past business dealings, which have been at the heart of a fraud investigation that has embarrassed the monarchy.

The son-in-law, Iñaki Urdangarin, who became the Duke of Palma in 1997 when he married Cristina, the younger daughter of the king, told Judge José Castro that the king, the princess and royal household officials had not offered him any advice about the activities of the Noos Institute, a sports foundation that Urdangarin had run.

Prosecutors have been investigating whether Urdangarin used his royal credentials to secure inflated, no-bid contracts from regional politicians for his foundation and then diverted millions of euros from the contract fees into other companies and offshore accounts that he and his associates controlled.

Urdangarin opened his testimony in closed court by reading a statement. In it, he insisted that, rather than getting involved in his dealings at Noos in any way, the royal household had eventually recommended he end his association with the foundation, as the family did not consider such activities to be “adequate for my institutional status,” according to a text released to reporters.

Urdangarin’s denial of any royal supervision contradicted recent statements by Diego Torres, his main business partner, which have raised the pressure on King Juan Carlos. Torres, who is also under investigation, told the judge last weekend that Urdangarin had made no move without the royal palace’s approval, turning over nearly 200 emails to support his claim.

Although the princess is not part of the investigation, Torres also indicated in his testimony that she had been involved in the running of the foundation with her husband, either directly or through her royal secretary, Carlos Garcia Revenga.

Castro has not yet determined whether prosecutors have enough evidence to charge Urdangarin, Torres and others involved in the foundation. On Saturday, the police blocked off the courthouse in Palma, Mallorca, and the surrounding streets to keep jeering protesters far from Urdangarin.

Virginia López Negrete, a lawyer who attended Saturday’s hearing as a third party in the case, said: “Nothing that he said today has convinced me of his innocence — quite the contrary — nor has he provided anything to refute all the evidence that has been building up as court documents.” López Negrete was there on behalf of Manos Limpias, or Clean Hands, an association that is urging the judiciary to pursue dozens of corruption cases in Spain.

The graft scandals have also landed on the doorstep of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who is dealing with an investigation into how his Popular Party’s former treasurer, Luis Bárcenas, amassed millions in secret Swiss bank accounts and whether Bárcenas ran a parallel fund to make illegal payments to Rajoy and other senior politicians.

While Bárcenas, Rajoy and other party leaders have denied any wrongdoing.

On Saturday afternoon, thousands of protesters gathered in downtown Madrid, shouting slogans such as “Your envelopes, my spending cuts!”

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