Scandal-hit former king returns to Spain after 2 years

May 18, 2022, 1:01 PM | Updated: May 19, 2022, 12:02 pm
Spain's former King Juan Carlos gets into a car on arrival by private jet at the Peinador airport i...

Spain's former King Juan Carlos gets into a car on arrival by private jet at the Peinador airport in Vigo, north western Spain, Thursday, May 19, 2022. Spain's former King has returned to Spain Thursday for his first visit since leaving nearly two years ago amid a cloud of financial scandals. (AP Photo/Lalo R. Villar)

(AP Photo/Lalo R. Villar)

MADRID (AP) — Spain’s former king returned to the country Thursday for his first visit since leaving nearly two years ago amid a cloud of financial scandals.

Plans for the visit were confirmed earlier this week by the royal household, who said Juan Carlos I would first visit the northwestern town of Sanxenxo, where a yachting event is scheduled. He plans to travel to Madrid on Monday to see his son, King Felipe VI, and other members of the royal family, the palace said in a statement.

The royal palace says the 84-year-old ex-monarch would return Monday to his “permanent and stable residence” in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates. It said his visit to Spain reflects Juan Carlos’ desire to “travel frequently to Spain to visit family and friends.”

Juan Carlos left Spain in August 2020 as Spanish and Swiss prosecutors investigated his involvement in alleged financial wrongdoings. The scandals renewed a debate over whether Spain should have a monarchy.

On Thursday evening, the private flight carrying the former monarch landed in northwestern Spain. He did not speak to the media who had gathered to capture his arrival ahead of a three-day regatta in which his yacht, the “Bribón” — which loosely translates as rascal — is participating.

The news of his visit divided opinion among Spain’s politicians.

“I think all Spanish citizens deserve an explanation,” Spain’s minister for economic affairs, Nadia Calviño, told broadcaster Cadena Ser on Thursday.

Yolanda Díaz, the second deputy prime minister and a senior member of the United We Can (Unidas Podemos) party, echoed that view.

“To me, it doesn’t matter where the king is,” she told reporters. “What I do believe, for the dignity of an institution like the Royal House — and this is coming from someone who is not a monarchist — is that he should be held accountable and explain to Spaniards what he did while he was the head of state.”

Others said it was time to turn the page.

“Prosecutors have already said that there were irregularities and that these irregularities are not subject to criminal prosecution,” said Edmundo Bal, a spokesperson for the Ciudadanos party. “That’s it. Period.”

Spanish prosecutors didn’t find evidence to take the former monarch to court because much of the alleged misbehavior, involving millions of euros (dollars) in undeclared accounts, happened when Juan Carlos had legal immunity as Spain’s king. Other acts of potential fraud fell outside the statute of limitations.

The investigations led to the recovery of 5.1 million euros ($5.4 million) in fines and taxes for income that Juan Carlos had failed to declare to Spanish tax authorities, the prosecutors said.

Swiss prosecutors also dropped their investigation.

Although Juan Carlos was not among the main subjects of the Swiss probe, prosecutors there said they discovered he received $100 million from the Saudi finance ministry in 2008 before he stepped down as king. The investigation also turned up millions more received by the king or his former partner, Danish-German entrepreneur Corinna Larsen.

Since becoming king in June 2014, Felipe VI has tried to distance himself from his father. He removed Juan Carlos from the royal house’s payroll to help rebuild the Spanish crown’s image.

Juan Carlos served as king from November 1975 until he abdicated and his son took his place. As monarch, Juan Carlos helped steer Spain back to democracy following the 1975 death of dictator Gen. Francisco Franco, making him at that time one of Spain’s most respected public figures.

But scandals involving Spain’s royal family began to mount in the later years of his reign. Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014, ending a 39-year-long term as monarch.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


File - People shop at an Apple store in the Westfield Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, New Jerse...
Associated Press

A key inflation gauge tracked by the Fed slowed in February

The Federal Reserve's favored inflation gauge slowed sharply last month, an encouraging sign in the Fed's yearlong effort to cool price pressures through steadily higher interest rates.
2 days ago
FILE - The OpenAI logo is seen on a mobile phone in front of a computer screen displaying output fr...
Associated Press

Musk, scientists call for halt to AI race sparked by ChatGPT

Are tech companies moving too fast in rolling out powerful artificial intelligence technology that could one day outsmart humans?
3 days ago
Associated Press

Starbucks leader grilled by Senate over anti-union actions

Longtime Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz faced sharp questioning Wednesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
4 days ago
FILE - The overdose-reversal drug Narcan is displayed during training for employees of the Public H...
Associated Press

FDA approves over-the-counter Narcan; here’s what it means

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved selling naloxone without a prescription, the first over-the-counter opioid treatment.
4 days ago
FILE - A Seattle police officer walks past tents used by people experiencing homelessness, March 11...
Associated Press

Seattle, feds seek to end most oversight of city’s police

  SEATTLE (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department and Seattle officials asked a judge Tuesday to end most federal oversight of the city’s police department, saying its sustained, decade-long reform efforts are a model for other cities whose law enforcement agencies face federal civil rights investigations. Seattle has overhauled virtually all aspects of its police […]
5 days ago
capital gains tax budgets...
Associated Press

Washington moves to end child sex abuse lawsuit time limits

People who were sexually abused as children in Washington state may soon be able to bring lawsuits against the state, schools or other institutions for failing to stop the abuse, no matter when it happened.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.
Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.
SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!
safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Scandal-hit former king returns to Spain after 2 years