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Urdangarín's second day in court: Royal brother-in-law contradicts himself 12 times and 'plays ignorant'
By:
thinkSPAIN , Thursday, March 3, 2016

ON DAY two of King Felipe's brother-in-law Iñaki Urdangarín's trial for multi-million public fund embezzlement, the accused claimed he 'did not move' without consulting the Royal Household, who 'oversaw his income tax declarations for 12 years'.

Prosecutor Pedro Horrach, who firmly believes Urdangarín's wife, the Infanta Cristina has no case to answer to, flagged up at least a dozen contradictions in the accused's statements.

Urdangarín had previously referred to a meeting with Valencia's ex-mayoress Rita Barberá (PP) in 2004, when he presented his plans for the Valencia Summit event, but during yesterday's (Wednesday's) hearing, he denied having met with her at all.

Urdangarín also denied meeting with former regional president of Valencia, Francisco Camps (PP), despite having said beforehand that he had done so.

His co-director in the Nóos Institute – purportedly a non-profit events organising body – Diego Torres had, according to previous statements by Urdangarín, been the one who decided workers' functions within the group and its linked branches, Nóos Consulting and Aizoon; but yesterday, he claimed this was not the case.

And having recently explained how the estimate for the Balearic Islands' cycling team's office was drafted by sports law specialist Juan Pablo Molinero with Torres' agreement, Urdangarín now says he 'had no way of knowing' whether Torres did, in fact, authorise the costs.

The only areas where Urdangarín remained adamant and stuck to his story were in connection with the finances, invoicing, estimates and tax affairs of the Nóos Institute and his estate agency firm Aizoon – which had no apparent commercial activity – where he said he 'knew nothing about that sort of thing' and 'did not deal with it'; and his wife's involvement.

The Infanta Cristina – King Felipe's youngest sister – who is also facing trial, was the owner of 50% of Aizoon, and her husband owned the other half.

Urdangarín, however, insists his wife had no involvement whatsoever in Aizoon's or the Nóos' affairs, and was merely named on the former for 'personal and sentimental' reasons.

He admitted to having followed the advice of the Nóos' company secretary, Torres' brother-in-law Miguel Tejeiro and the accountant, Antonio Tejeiro and 'helped to put in practice' what he called the 'fiscal strategy' of the Institute.

Urdangarín explained he was told they 'had to keep the number of employees high' within Aizoon 'to be able to obtain certain tax benefits', but that he 'has no idea' whether the accounting procedures followed in this respect were followed correctly.

Backing up Torres' claims that their operations were entirely overseen by the Royal Household, Urdangarín says he 'never moved without consulting' its secretary, Carlos García Revenga, but says García Revenga himself had no role within the Nóos or Aizoon.

And the Infanta's income tax declarations were always dealt with by Federico Rubio, 'an accountant who came from the Royal Household' and whom, as Torres claimed earlier, met 'every year in June' with Nóos company secretary Miguel Tejeiro.

The accused admitted he had been 'recommended' in 2006 by the Count of Fontão, José Manuel Romero, to distance himself and Cristina from the Nóos Institute's board of directors, after 'questions in Parliament' were asked and 'press reports released' about the couple's activities.

After that, Urdangarín insists, he had no role within the Nóos other than 'being informed of some of what was going on' within it.

According to the prosecution, Urdangarín and Torres inflated estimates and invoices for organising arts, entertainment and sporting events on behalf of the regional governments of Valencia and the Balearic Islands, and pocketed the difference.

Urdangarín is then alleged to have laundered the money by issuing invoices for his 'management consulting fees' paid for by Aizoon.

As well as offsetting personal expenses against Aizoon to benefit from lower taxes, Urdangarín and the Infanta are accused of registering 'phantom employees' with the latter company.

These included domestic housekeeping and cleaning staff, and even his own nieces and nephews, according to the prosecution.

But Urdangarín, ever-evasive, said he 'did not know his employees personally' and could not say who they were.

He admitted to having set up Aizoon in 2003 'on Miguel Tejeiro's recommendation', and said the Nóos Institute was one of its biggest clients.

Between 2004 and 2005, Nóos invoiced Aizoon for €710,000 plus IVA for two projects.

When Horrach asked why he used Aizoon to issue invoices to, Urdangarín said it was 'because it was his company and he was director' and that 'that was how things worked'.

We always thought that the strategy associated with sponsorship of the Nóos' events was purely academic,” Urdangarín stated.

Asked whether the Nóos had in fact been a lucrative organisation fraudulently registered as a non-profit entity, Urdangarín said societies of this type 'are allowed to generate a surplus as long as it is reinvested in their activities'.

But all other financial affairs were 'dealt with by professionals in the field', he claimed.

Urdangarín said he had 'no idea' how much his own consulting fees were, nor how much he charged by the hour, and said the two Tejeiros dealt with his income tax returns which were supervised by Rubio.

Rubio allegedly asked for 'information about all the business activities' the couple was involved with, but Urdangarín was unable to remember what documents he gave to Miguel Tejeiro, who attended meetings with the Royal Household's accountant on his behalf.

This supervision went on for 12 years, since Urdangarín and the Infanta married until the year 2009, he claims.

Urdangarín continued to deny all knowledge of the workings of his own companies and foundations, insisting he dealt purely with the sports aspect – being a former Olympic handball player – and did not even know who the manager of the offshoot Areté Culture and Sports Foundation was.

My mere physical presence in the Foundation did not mean I knew who was who,” he insisted.

Within companies, there is always a strict division of roles and responsibilities.”

He admitted that the Count of Fontão had recommended he did not appear on the paperwork as the founder or chairman, but said he had not realised the Foundation had been bought by the profit-making company De Goes, set up by Nóos to deal with its international activity.

Urdangarín confessed that his friends and family members registered as employees of Aizoon did not actually work for the firm, but just appeared on the payroll, although he denied fake payslips had been created for them and said they 'did help out by doing research' and were 'not phantom staff'.

I thought everything had been done properly, but if the tax office considers it has not, this will be discussed and repaired through the declarations I made in 2009,” Urdangarín concluded.

When asked by the State lawyer whether this was an admission of fraud, Urdangarín said it was not.

Once his hearing – now into day three - is over, the most keenly-awaited will be that of his wife, who will make history by becoming the only Royal by birth in Spain to have ever appeared in the dock.

 

 

 
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