AS SPAIN'S north-eastern region of Catalunya seeks to break away from the mother country in the eyes of the world's media, the fact that a chunk of national territory has already 'left' Spanish soil this...
Infanta Cristina appears in court
THE first-ever member of the Royal family by birth, the Infanta Cristina – King Felipe VI's youngest sister – faced her hearing yesterday (Thursday) over the long-running Nóos Institute public-fund embezzlement and tax evasion case which could see her husband, Iñaki Urdangarín, go down for up to 20 years.
Cristina de Borbón y Grecia said she had no part whatsoever in the running of Aizoon, the dormant estate agency firm believed to have been set up to launder the surplus of inflated invoices to regional governments for events the Nóos organised.
Despite being 50% owner – the other half owned by Urdangarín – the Infanta says she never attended a single board meeting, although admitted she signed the minutes without having attended 'because she trusted her husband'.
The King's sister says she had never known anything about Aizoon's income and expenditure, and never touched anything to do with its finances – her involvement having been limited to signing the statute as co-director in a notary's office in 2003.
Asked whom she trusted within the business network other than her husband, the Infanta named José Manuel Romero, the Royal Household's secretary Carlos García Revenga and its accountant Federico Rubio whom, according to Urdangarín, dealt with the Infanta's tax declarations every year, and Aizoon's accountant Miguel Tejeiro - “but I don't trust him any longer,” she concluded.
In spite of this, the former Duchess of Palma – whose own brother stripped her of her title – said she still had 'complete confidence' in her husband and in his 'innocence', and had 'always been convinced' that he had been 'correctly advised' by his financial experts.
Cristina said she was not a signatory to Aizoon's bank account and did not even know the PIN for the company credit card in her name – in fact, she says she never saw it and never received bank statements for the firm – and had never been aware that personal expenses were covered by the credit card or offset against Aizoon's taxes.
She never gave instructions to her husband's secretary, Julita Cuquerella, 'nor to anyone', and that although she and Urdangarín chose their household staff together, it was the former Duke of Palma and his financial and legal advisors who dealt with their affairs and decided what type of job contracts they would be given.
The couple's domestic employees, as well as nieces and nephews of Urdangarín, were found to be on the payroll in Aizoon and Miguel Tejeiro's brother Antonio, who handled the accounting, claimed he had been asked to draw up fake payslips for them.
But when asked whether she had ever paid her staff cash-in-hand wages off-contract, Cristina responded: “Absolutely not.”
The Infanta, with four children who were very small at the time, ran the house and family affairs and Urdangarín dealt with their businesses, she stated.
They never talked about Aizoon or its activities because 'it was not a subject she was particularly interested in'.
Whilst confirming she does have a bank account in Switzerland because she lives there – in Geneva, where she works for the Caixa bank's social and cultural foundation, her employer in several international locations for over 20 years – Cristina de Borbón said neither she nor her husband kept money in offshore accounts.
The former Duchess refused to answer questions posed by the private prosecution, the far-right campaign group Manos Limpias ('clean hands'), and would only respond to those asked by her own lawyer.
She is not facing public prosecution, but may face civil liabilities jointly and severally with her husband to the tune of €587,413, whilst the State law service is suing her for €168,571.
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