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Urdangarín on trial: Ex-Duke of Palma says he 'did not deal with invoices and finances' and 'did not know his staff'
THE LONG-AWAITED court hearing of King Felipe's brother-in-law Iñaki Urdangarín began on Friday, in which the former director of the Nóos Institute denied all charges.
Accused of public fund embezzlement along with the Institute's co-owner, Diego Torres, the husband of the Infanta Cristina – Felipe VI's youngest sister – was as evasive as possible during his interrogation.
The Nóos was set up as a non-profit entity to organise sports, arts and entertainment events in the regions of Valencia and the Balearic Islands, but Urdangarín and Torres are said to have artificially inflated their costs in order to benefit from even greater sums of taxpayers' money, and pocketed the difference.
Whether this was done with the knowledge and consent of the two regional governments is not clear, but various officials – who belong to the PP party – have already testified or are scheduled to do so.
To account for the funds, Urdangarín set up the estate agency company, Aizoon, S.L., which he owned jointly with the Infanta Cristina and which had no known activity.
He billed the firm for his 'management consultant activities', enabling him to launder the cash earned through the Nóos Institute.
Aizoon had a number of staff members on the payroll who, in fact, are thought to be the couple's domestic cleaning and housekeeping employees or even friends.
They were stripped of their titles of Duke and Duchess of Palma by the latter's own brother last year.
Accountant Antonio Tejeiro revealed he had been asked to carry out 'dubious transactions' including drawing up fake payslips.
And Diego Torres passed the buck to his brother-in-law Miguel Tejeiro, the Nóos Institute's former secretary, saying the latter had dealt with all the finance and tax management.
Torres claimed the Royal Household had fully supported and even supervised the Institute's activities, with the now-abdicated King Juan Carlos I's extra-marital lover, Princess Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein of Germany, having suggested they open a company in the UK.
In the second part of Torres' hearing, he referred to the Royals as having 'controlled', rather than 'supervised' or 'supported', the Nóos' work.
Urdangarín's hearing has been eagerly followed by the whole of Spain, although he answered most questions with 'I don't know', 'I don't remember', or 'that wasn't my department'.
The ex-Duke says he 'did not know the staff' at Aizoon, because employee and payroll matters were Miguel Tejeiro's job.
Neither did he apparently know anything about invoicing or estimates.
“I don't understand anything about matters like that,” claimed Urdangarín.
He hinted that his signature may have been forged on certain papers – including the one shown to him in the courtroom by prosecutor Pedro Horrach.
“I don't know who might have been acting in my name,” the former Royal argued.
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