Former king pays 4.4 million euros to Spanish tax agency

ARITZ PARRA
·3 min read

MADRID (AP) — A law firm representing Juan Carlos I says that the former Spanish monarch has paid close to 4.4 million euros ($5.33 million) to the country's tax authorities in his latest attempt to regularize past undeclared income.

The revelation prompted a new rebuke to the 83-year-old former king from the country's prime minister. Pedro Sánchez said Friday that he rejected the "uncivil behavior" of Juan Carlos, but fully supported the current monarch, King Felipe VI.

The former monarch, who has been living abroad for more than half a year after media revealed fresh allegations of financial misdeeds, already filed for settlement for another tax debt in December for covert donations made to him between 2016 and 2018. That resulted in the payment of more than 678,000 euros including interest and a fine.

Juan Carlos' lawyer, Javier Sánchez-Junco, said in a statement Friday that the latest tax debt relates to the payments that a private foundation, Zagatka, made on behalf of the former king for “several travel expenses and other services."

The Liechtenstein-based foundation is owned by Álvaro de Orleans, a businessman and distant cousin of Juan Carlos who has publicly admitted having funded some of the former monarch's private expenses. Payments-in-kind are subject to taxes under Spanish law.

Leading Spanish newspaper El País and online news website El Español, which first reported the new tax settlement, said that the foundation paid for flights with a private jet company for more than a decade up to 2018.

The lawyer's statement said that the payment of overdue taxes plus interests and “surcharges” was voluntary and that tax authorities had not asked for it. The former monarch's tax obligations “have been regularized," it said. Under Spanish law, confessing to undeclared income and paying the outstanding taxes allows offenders to avoid being charged with tax evasion.

The former king is the target of official investigations in Spain and Switzerland for possible financial wrongdoing. One of them involves possible kickbacks in a high-speed railway contract in Saudi Arabia.

Those investigations prompted him to leave Spain in August for the United Arab Emirates. He has been photographed there in a luxurious hotel where Spanish media say he's living as a guest of Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed.

The Royal Palace declined to comment on the new developments. King Felipe VI, who rose to the Spanish throne after Juan Carlos’ abdication in 2014, has distanced himself from his father.

Felipe and Tax Minister María Jesús Montero avoided any comments on the latest development when both attended a previously scheduled business award ceremony Friday.

Speaking to reporters at the government palace, Prime Minister Sánchez said Friday that Felipe's reign had been “a turning point in favor of exemplarity, transparency and proper use of public resources."

“The current king,” the prime minister said, “has all my support.”

But Juan Carlos’ scandals have emboldened those who want the monarchy abolished and deepened division in Sánchez's Socialist-led government. His junior coalition partner, the far-left United We Can party, has called for legal changes to improve the state’s oversight of the crown and on Friday demanded full disclosure of the tax agency's dealings with the former king.

Sánchez admitted that the revelations cast a shadow on Juan Carlos himself but didn't question the monarchy as an institution.

“I am going to reject, as do most Spanish citizens, this uncivil behavior,” Sánchez said.