The wedding of the Infanta Cristina and athlete Iñaki Urdangarín was very much like a fairytale. Many Spaniards sympathized with this man, the masculine version of Cinderella, who had fallen in love with a princess enamored by his goals with the Olympic handball team.
Years later, the handsome athlete who captured the princess only sees his name in the press related to scandals and corruption [es]. Iñaki Urdangarín, Duke of Palma, accused of embezzlement of public funds, fraud, breach of trust/corruption and forgery of documents since 2012, has been in and out of the courts with less than enviable frequency. Recently a warrant for Urdangarín was issued in relation to misappropriation of public funds. The judge has placed a bail of 8.1 million euros for the two suspects, Urdangarín and his old business partner, Diego Torres.
The crimes that he is accused of go back to 2004, the year in which Urdangarín became the president of the «Instituto Nóos de Estudios Estratégicos de Patrocinio y Mecenazgo» (Institute Nóos of Strategic Studies for Patronage and Sponsorship). According to its now defunct website [es], the supposed organization was nonprofit:
(…) es una asociación científica que tiene como misión promover la investigación sobre la gestión de actividades de mecenazgo, responsabilidad social y patrocinio.
(…) it is a scientific association whose mission is to promote research about the management of sponsorship activities, social responsibility and patronage.
However, the judge affirms in a 542 page thorough judicial decree [es] that there is clear evidence that in fact:
El Sr. Urdangarín, aprovechándose de su condición de miembro de la casa Real española, contactó con diferentes personalidades políticas (…) para, después de proponer sus “proyectos”, conseguir que los mismos fueran aprobados (…) intentar dar una cobertura de aparente legalidad a una ilegalidad manifiesta que era la adjudicación directa y (…) conceder al Sr. Urdangarín todas sus peticiones, las cuales NO respondían a ningún interés o necesidad pública, sino sólo al interés del Sr. Urdangarín (…)
(…) [Urdangarín y Torres] pudieran haber cometido varios delitos de malversación, prevaricación, falsedad, fraude fiscal, blanqueo de capitales, tráfico de influencias, etc… (…)
(…) todo es una auténtica trama urdida por los imputados, para desviar fondos públicos en su beneficio (…)
Mr. Urdangarín, taking advantage of his status as a member of the royal Spanish family, contacted various political figures (…) in order to, after proposing his “projects,” assure that they would be approved (…) trying to give seemingly legal coverage to the evident illegality of directly adjudicating and (…) granting every one of Mr. Urdangarín's requests, which did NOT correspond to any public necessity or interest, but only to the interests of Mr. Urdangarín. (…)
(…) [Urdangarín and Torres] may have committed various crimes of embezzlement, corruption, forgery, tax fraud, money laundering, influence peddling, etc… (…)
(…) All this is an authentic plot hatched by the accused, to divert public funds to their benefit. (…)
The complicated plot, which has needed several years of investigation, came to light during the investigation of another corruption scandal, the Palma Arena case [es]. The news site 20minutos.es has created a chronology of the Nóos case [es]. The issue comes from as far as can be deduced by this articule from El Siglo [es], dated May 2006, where there was already talk of concern in the royal family for Urdangarín's unclear business dealings.
Despite the fact that Princess Cristina took part as a member of Instituto Nóos’ governing board, she has never been charged. However, Ana María Tejeiro, wife of Diego Torres was charged though she did not play a role in the management of the institute. This affront [es] infuriated Diego Torres, who has jeopardized the monarchy through various public emails that implicate many people close to the royal family.
Among those implicated is the personal secretary of the royal children, Carlos García Revenga, who was treasurer of Nóos and was also officially charged by the judge. Although the secretary affirms [es] that he never had «decision power in the management of [Nóos accounts] or accounting», emails sent to him by the Duke of Palma seem to prove that he consulted with García Revenga about received proposals. The fact that Urdangarín signed some of these messages as “El duque em…Palma…do» attests to the shared trust between the two men.
With the indictment of García Revenga, the board of directors at Instituto Nóos is suspected in this case except for the king's daughter. This fact, that has not gone unnoticed, has been another blow to the terrible state of the monarchy, that is in its worst moment since its reinstatement in 1975.
Comments made by Mª Antonia [es] on 20minutos.es [es] in reference to the king's words during his Christmas message demonstrate the damaged state of the monarchy:
Ya vemos que la justicia es igual para todos, verdad, su majestad? #ReferendumYa!
We now see that justice is equal for everyone, right, your majesty? #ReferendumNow!
The perception that Princess Cristina is protected by her family has settled in the minds of Spaniards, whose confidence in the crown has been decreasing in recent years. Davesanders [es] commented in 2011 in an article on público.es [es]:
Por favor, que estamos en el siglo XXI, los reyes, elfos, unicornios y demás seres mitológicos están bien para el cine pero para nada mas. Esta institución es un insulto para la inteligencia (…) SUPEREMOS DE UNA VEZ LA EDAD MEDIA !!!!!
Please, we are in the 21st century, kings, elves, unicorns and all other mythological creatures are fine for the movies but for nothing more. This institution is an insult to intelligence (…) FOR ONCE LET'S OVERCOME THE MIDDLE AGES !!!!!
This growing detachment towards the monarchy has been accentuated by the lukewarm reaction of the royal family to these facts. Until now, the royal family has merely withdrawn Urdangarín from their official website. Moreover, in a press release [es], the royal house reports that “no decision will be taken in the realm of responsibility without first hearing and appreciating Don Carlos García Revenga's statement before the Hon. Lord Magistrate on February 23.”
joseluis47 [es] commented on this news on publico.es [es]:
¿Y asi la Casa Real pretende dar imagen de transparencia y buenas practicas? ¿asi piensa recuperar la poca imagen que le queda? ¿no tiene bastantes indicios de las actuaciones del secretario? La mujer del Cesar, ademas de ser honrada. tiene que parecerlo, y no dejar ninguna duda
And this is how the Royal Family tries to provide an image of transparency and good practices? This is how they think they can recover the little image that remains? isn't there enough evidence of the secretary's conduct? Cesar's wife, besides being honors. must seem so, without leaving any doubt.
On Twitter many doubt that we will ever see a true end to this sad story:
@kurioso: En junio prescriben los delitos contra la Hacienda pública de Urdangarín….¿Adivináis la prisa que se van a dar en formalizar acusaciones?
@kurioso: In June the statute of limitations of Urdangarín's crimes against public finance runs out….Can you guess the rush that will be given to formalizing the charges?
@SuperFalete: Ya no está Urdangarín en las fotos. Ahora vendrán los Men in Black a borrarnos la memoria y a otra cosa.
@SuperFalete: Urdangarín is no longer in photos. Now the Men in Black will come to erase our memories and to the next thing.