Spain: King's Controversial Son-in-law Gets Salary in Millions

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

Last week it was made public in the press that Iñaki Urdangarín, the Duke of Palma, husband of Princess Cristina, and therefore the son-in-law of the King of Spain, had renewed his contract with the telecommunications company Telefónica. According to El Mundo, with the new contract, Urdangarín will receive a salary of 1.5 million euro as well as 1.2 million euro in-kind. The compensation in the event of termination would be 4.5 million euro.

The news has caused an outcry, especially since a few days after the news, the most severe budget cuts that the country has seen in recent history were announced. The Spanish have already been hearing talk of salaries and compensation in the millions for the upper executives of large companies and banks, who seem to be getting through the crisis with more relief than the average citizen.

Salaries and compensation for the heads of rescued banks, image from

In addition to the scandalous salary, it must be added that Iñaki Urdangarín is being investigated in connection to various crimes perpetrated under the cover of the Nóos Institute, a supposedly non-profit entity that allegedly could have served as a front in a scheme to appropriate public funds illegally. The Duke of Palma is charged with obstruction of justice, forgery, misappropriation of public funds, fraud, and money laundering, for which he could be sentenced for up to 18 years in prison. In addition to the Duke, other executives of Nóos, along with some of their spouses, are incriminated, although up until now the judge has rejected the prosecution of Princess Cristina so as not to “gratuitiously disgrace a sole individual, which is not acceptable.”

Social networks immediately spread the news about Telefónica's renewal of Urdangarín, which was a trending topic on Twitter. Some handled it with humor, like the users @LargoJavariega and @eraser:

@LargoJavariega: En el país de los móviles, Urdangarin es el fijo.

@LargoJavariega: In the country of mobile phones, Urdangarín is the landline.

@eraser: HOLLANDE [Presidente de Francia] ten compasión d pueblo gorfante INVADENOS!! desde las + altas cotas dla miseria hastas las cimas dla #monarquia #Urdangarin #15M

@eraser: HOLLANDE [President of France] have compassion for the people INVADE US!! from the depths of misery up to the summits of the #monarquia #Urdangarin #15M

The fake doodle that Google dedicated to Urdangarín. Image from the Facebook page «His Excellency Don Iñaki Urdangarín, Great Swindler of the Kingdom»

But the majority of the messages reflected the helplessness that the Spanish people feel when faced with this type of abuse. Julia Romero comments on the news on the Facebook page Su Excelentísimo Señor Don Iñaki Urdangarín, estafados mayor del reino [His Excellency Don Iñaki Urdangarín, Great Swindler of the Kingdom]:

k fuerte…. pero trankilos… k no va a pasar absolutamente nada… si alguien tiene k pagar algo…. somos nosotros… k ellos roben k ya nos recortan a nosotros!!! verguenza de pais y verguenza de todo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

how bold…. but rest assured… that absolutely nothing is going to happen… if anyone has to pay something…. it's us… they rob us of what has already been cut back!!! shame on the country and shame on everybody!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cagonto Pormil Porcien, with a comment in El Mundo, says:

¿Urdangarín en Telefónica? Pues lo mismo que Zaplana como delegado de relaciones institucionales para Europa en Telefónica. ¡ Y sin tan siquiera hablar inglés ! O sea, que Telefónica es un cementerio de impresentables y delincuentes. Menos mal que ya no trabajo para ellos, porque estaría cien veces más indignado.

Urdangarín with Telefónica? Well it's the same as Zaplana [another former Spanish politician now with Telefónica] as Institutional Relations Officer for Europe with Telefónica. And without even speaking English! That is to say, Telefónica is a cemetary of untrustworthy and felonious people. Much better that I don't work for them anymore, or else I would be a hundred times angrier.

It so happens that Telefónica has already been losing clients for several months to ADSL, mobile phones and other landlines, and many internet users have expressed their intention to leave the company, driven by their rejection of paying a salary in the millions to Urdangarín, such as Beatriz Rico (@bearicoactriz):

@bearicoactriz: Si Telefònica renueva a Urdangarín por 1,5 millones d euros, no quiero q mi factura d teléfonía contribuya a ese sueldo; cambio d compañía.

If Telefónica renews Urdangarín for 1.5 million euros, I don't want my telephone bill to contribute to that salary; I'll change companies.

Meanwhile, others confirmed they have already terminated and urged other readers to do the same, like David Barba (@SmartPowerUp):

@SmartPowerUp: Vete de Telefónica. Mira lo que hacen con el dinero. CORROMPIDA LA VIDA ES MAS #Urdangarin #Vomistar

@SmartPowerUp: Get away from Telefónica. Look at what they're doing with the money. CORRUPTED, THERE'S MORE TO LIFE [Based on Telefónica's slogan “Shared, there's more to life”]#Urdangarin #Vomistar

In their defense, Telefónica has justified their decision to renew Urdangarín's contract to avoid “condemning him in advance”, although several members of the directive council have made known their rejection because of “the damage that the Urdangarín case is causing in-house.”

It is worth mentioning that Telefónica is carrying out an ERE [Spanish process of workforce downsizing] in Spain, with which it hopes to layoff 6,500 workers until 2013 and save 250 million euro in 2012. Another turn of the screw for the Spanish economy in its crippled state.

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

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