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Iñaki Urdangarín, King's brother-in-law, sentenced to six years in prison; Infanta Cristina acquitted
thinkSPAIN , Friday, February 17, 2017

KING Felipe VI's brother-in-law Iñaki Urdangarín has been sentenced to six years and three months in prison for his multi-million public fund embezzlement and tax fraud scam through a so-called 'non-profit' entity he jointly ran.

Urdangarín's wife – the King's younger sister Cristina – has been acquitted, but has been ordered to pay a €265,000 fine for tax evasion running into several million euros, which she has already refunded plus interest.

Tax evasion, where the amount due is over €120,000, is a criminal offence which can carry a jail sentence as well as a fine – anything less is a civil offence which only attracts a fine.

This meant Spain could have seen its first blood Royal in living history behind bars, but Urdangarín's sentence will see the first Royal by marriage in jail in modern times.

The court is entitled to order him to go straight to prison without packing his cases, but legal sources say he may go to the jail in Badajoz, Extremadura, which is reputed to be a relatively calm, non-violent institution fairly lenient on its inmates.

It could mean Urdangarín will spend his days sweeping the patio and mopping the corridors, with little or no hard labour.

Urdangarín's co-director of the Nóos Institute, Diego Torres, has been sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison and a fine of over €1.72 million.

The Infanta Cristina's husband will face a lesser fine, of just over half a million, on top of the civil bail release he already had to deposit with the court and which forced the couple to sell their mansion in Pedralbes (Barcelona province).

Torres set up the Nóos Institute in Palma de Mallorca in 1999 and Urdangarín joined him in 2003 in running the non-profit group – which in fact had registered charity status – purportedly created to promote and organise arts, entertainment and sporting events.

These included a major cycle tournament in Valencia and, for their work in arranging these events, the Nóos bosses invoiced the regional governments of Madrid, Valencia and the Balearic Islands.

Their invoices were inflated and the difference pocketed by the two men.

Numerous satellite companies with no business activity were created to launder the cash.

One of these was Aizoon, owned 50-50 by Urdangarín and the Infanta Cristina, which the former invoiced for his 'management consultancy' work to account for the €6.1m in taxpayers' funds he and Torres had kept for themselves.

The then Duke and Duchess of Palma – who have lost all their titles and Royal status – offset personal, domestic expenses against Aizoon to benefit from income tax relief.

Cristina claimed she was a mere sleeping partner in Aizoon and knew nothing about its finances or activities, but signed documents Urdangarín gave her because she 'trusted her husband'.

The judge considered it implausible that the key bank employee with 25 years' experience in a top financial management role should be ignorant of the affairs of a company she owned 50% of, but any involvement she might have had in the money laundering scam cannot be proven, meaning criminal action has only been taken for the tax evasion aspect.

Urdangarín and Torres were initially facing 19 years each in prison and multi-million fines, but the prosecutor, Pedro Horrach tried to do a deal with them which would reduce their sentences.

The former Duke of Palma was only willing to agree a deal resulting in a maximum of two years in prison, since as a first offence, he would not have to serve it, but this was rejected by Horrach.




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