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  HOME | World (Click here for more)

Witnesses in Spain Probe Say They Couldn’t Refuse Royal In-Law

MADRID – Several witnesses who have testified in the Spanish judicial investigation of Iñaki Urdangarin for alleged corruption said that their companies signed contracts with him because he is the son-in-law of King Juan Carlos.

That is what has emerged from the judicial case summary that became available last week after Urdangarin and associate Diego Torres were officially accused of pocketing 5.8 million euros ($7.5 million) in public funds while running a non-profit foundation.

But Instituto Noos also won contracts from private businesses, including several professional soccer clubs.

The former president of the Valencia soccer club, Juan Bautista Soler, told the police that he “felt obligated” to give money to Instituto Noos “because it was Iñaki Urdangarin who asked for it.”

He did that, he said, in spite of thinking that “there was something that stunk” and not being clear what the money was to be used for.

According to Soler’s statement, to which Efe received access, after several meetings with Urdangarin, Valencia paid 30,000 euros to the Instituto Noos for several projects, despite the fact that the club was losing money.

The president of Villareal soccer club, Fernando Roig, also testified to police and prosecutors along the same lines.

Roig said that he hired the Instituto Noos to do a study on selling the naming rights to the club’s stadium, “basically because Iñaki Urdangarin was its president.”

In his statement, Roig said that Torres and Urdangarin set the price of this service at 696,000 euros ($900,000).

“In exchange for that money, Noos delivered a 13-page report – including one for the cover, another for the index, one more for the introduction and the last for ‘conclusions’ of only three paragraphs – in which it was claimed that Villarreal could obtain between 3.6 million and 3.8 million euros for ‘sponsorizing’ its stadium,” the statement said.

The bulk of the money that was to wind up in the hands of Urdangarin, who holds the title of Duke of Palma, and his partner was, however, from public funds, according to prosecutors, who say the pair received 5.8 million euros ($7.5 million ) in no-bid contracts from the Balearic Islands and Valencia regional governments.

Once the contracts were obtained, the Instituto Noos subcontracted the work to companies owned by Urdangarin and Torres.

The 43-year-old Urdangarin wed Princess Cristina, the youngest daughter of Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, in October 1997. The couple and their four children now live in Washington, where the duke is an executive with Spanish telecom giant Telefonica.

The royal household announced Dec. 12 that Urdangarin would no longer take part in official activities, citing his less than “exemplary” conduct. EFE

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