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Will Spain succeed in forgetting about Juan Carlos?

After Juan Carlos I came to power, one of his tasks was to distance himself as far as possible from the figure of Francisco Franco. Now his son, Philip VI, faces a similar challenge.

On August 3, Juan Carlos I — Honored King of Spain, who led the country for 39 years after the death of dictator Francisco Franco, from whose hands he received the crown, left the country amidst corruption scandals. The hurry and mystery of the departure of the pillar of Spanish democracy were very much like the flight of time working from the banana republic.

For a week, passions were buzzing and the media were wondering exactly where the honored king went. Supporters of the Catalan branch demanded to call to account those individuals in the government of Spain who knew about the impending departure of Juan Carlos and did not prevent him. The monarchist organization tried to hold politicians accountable for their insulting remarks to the former and reigning monarchs, as well as to the Bourbon dynasty in general.

Then the scandal started to quietly abate; it turned out from the poll that Spanish residents began to treat the royal family and Juan Carlos a little better. Obviously, the unsophisticated tactics “out of sight”, chosen to save the reputation of the Royal House of Spain, is already bearing fruit. However, on August 24 it became known that a former friend of the King's Corinne Larsen filed a lawsuit against him in London for harassment and persecution with the help of the Spanish intelligence service. This at least means that the short pause between the media scandals around Juan Carlos is over.

The scandals related to the Spanish royal family are not just unpleasant and put an end to the reputation of Juan Carlos I, who — as it was thought for many years — gave the country civil liberties and made the transition from dictatorship to democracy, they are actively used by supporters of secession who came to power in several regions of the country. The continuation of scandalous disclosures means that nationalists will continue to exploit this topic for their political purposes.

In anticipation of further developments, it is worth remembering the main events of this year, which prompted the departure of the very young former monarch, who repeatedly stated that he would never do it.

In 2018, the Swiss prosecutor's office, investigating a number of cases, discovered several foundations: a Liechtenstein foundation with the Russian name “Fundacion Zagatka”, owned by the nephew of King Alvaro de Orleans, from which private flights were paid for by Juan Carlos I and Corinna Larsen, and the Panamanian foundation Lucum, the first beneficiary of which was Juan Carlos I, the second was Philip VI.

The continuation of the scandalous disclosures means that nationalists will continue to exploit this topic for their political purposes.

On March 15 this year, Philip VI officially renounced his father's future inheritance, which could have been owed to him, as well as any assets, investments, or financial structures of dubious origin. At the same time, he deprived the honored king of the royal maintenance, which previously amounted to about 200 thousand euros per year.

In early June, the prosecutor's office of the Supreme Court of Spain accepted the case of alleged money laundering and tax evasion in connection with the “commission” of $100 million that Juan Carlos could receive for the fact that the contract for construction of the high-speed railway between Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia was taken by the Spanish, not by the French consortium, for which the then-president of France Nicolas Sarkozy paid. This largest contract in the history of the Spanish industry was signed in 2011, worth 7 billion euros.

It is important to note that the investigations of the Spanish prosecutor's office are preliminary, pre-trial because under the Spanish Constitution, Juan Carlos I was not convicted before his abdication in favor of his son in June 2014. After this event, Juan Carlos is protected from trial by the title of “Honored King”, which he carries after his abdication. Only his son, Philip VI, may be deprived of the title of King Father by an amendment to the corresponding decree awarding titles. In other words, not a single case against Juan Carlos in Spain is open; preliminary investigations are conducted.

Given the lack of jurisdiction, the proposal of the leftist alliance Unidos Podemos to establish a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the King's activities was expected to be rejected by the lawyers of the Spanish Parliament. However, the title of Honored King does not give Juan Carlos international immunity, which protects heads of state. That is why the suit of a former friend of the King in London court is both unpleasant and dangerous.

Since spring, more and more details of the Swiss prosecutor's office investigation, bank documents, and excerpts of testimony have been published with enviable regularity in the press.

Juan Carlos is protected from the court by the title of “Honored King”, which he bears after his abdication.

From the publication of The Telegraph, picked up by the Spanish press, it turned out that most of the wedding journey of the future King Philip VI and Leticia in 2004, which was given to the newlyweds by his parents: Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia, paid for by the Catalan businessman Joseph Cusi, an old friend of Juan Carlos.

The trip of Juan Carlos himself to French Polynesia was paid for by the same foundation “Mystery”. The Swiss prosecutor's office suspects that some funds there may belong to the king himself and have an illegal origin.

El Espanol was acquainted with the testimony of Swiss lawyer Juan Carlos, who reported that in 2011, the king commissioned the establishment of a structure in Switzerland to keep away from the Spanish tax authorities the “significant donation” he was to receive from the King of Saudi Arabia.

Further publications revealed that the $100 million received in an account with the Swiss bank Mirabaud, of which King Juan Carlos I of Spain was the beneficiary, was a gift from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, made in the Saudi tradition. At least, this is what the account opening documents say.

El Pais published the revelations of a former friend of the king, a German businessman Corinne Larsen. She reported that Juan Carlos I transferred to her in 2012 about 65 million euros (the equivalent of the then $100 million received from Saudi Arabia) “out of gratitude and love. Further publications revealed that the king would later ask her to return the amount, but she would refuse on the advice of her lawyer.

The newspaper El Confidencial reported that from 2008 to 2012, the accounts of the Lucum Foundation, opened on behalf of Juan Carlos in a Swiss bank, regularly received funds. The monarch withdrew from it more than 100 thousand euros a month. In 2010 alone, Juan Carlos I ordered 1.5 million euros of “dark origin” from his account. However, the funds passing through the account were not declared to the Spanish tax authorities.

In 2010 alone, Juan Carlos I disposed of 1.5 million euros of “dark origin” from his account.

Moreover, Juan Carlos lawyer Dante Canonica brought some of this money from the Geneva bank Mirabaud in cash to the Royal Palace of Zarzuela, in a suitcase. During one trip it was possible to transport 200-300 thousand euros each. The king signed to receive the money. The money was not cleared through customs.

The results of the revelations and the departure of Juan Carlos did not take long.

Participants of the antimonarchical rally in Madrid called the post-Frankist monarchy “a fascist legacy”. Members of the Spanish parliament from the Basque Party of Bildu proposed a referendum on how to rule in Spain. The same referendum was also discussed in the Catalan parliament. Antimonarchical speeches were accompanied by a brief visit of the royal couple to Catalonia. The head of the region, Kim Torra, was the only one of the heads of the regions of Spain who did not come to the meeting with the Prime Minister of the country Pedro Sanchez, where the question of distribution of the European Union aid among the regions, which was the most important for everyone, was solved because the meeting was chaired by Philip VI.

The Catalan parliament, which met urgently after the departure of Juan Carlos I to develop a common position on the departure, adopted a scandalous resolution, the full text of which was not published in the official press. Passages about “Catalonia is republican and therefore does not recognize any king, and it does not need one” and “the Francis legacy of the Bourbon monarchy” remained in the text, while a fragment of “crime of the monarchy” and a paragraph stating that the only way to overcome the monarchical regime is to build a Catalan republic, mysteriously disappeared.

News of Juan Carlos being stripped of his gold medals of honor appeared. The Barcelona City Council deprived Juan Carlos of the gold medal of the Catalan capital. Avenue Juan Carlos I in Cadiz was renamed Health Avenue. Obviously, this is just the beginning.

After Juan Carlos I came to power, one of his tasks was to distance himself as far as possible from the figure of Francisco Franco. Now his son, Philip VI, faces a similar challenge. Not only the future of this branch of the Bourbons depends on fulfilling this task.

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