Spain: Princess' husband links palace aides to fraud case

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

MADRID (AP) — Princess Cristina's husband told a Spanish court Wednesday that palace officials oversaw the princess' tax dealings and were aware of his business operations at the Noos Institute, which is at the center of a tax-and-embezzlement trial in which the couple and 15 others are accused.

Inaki Urdangarin told prosecutors he never made any decisions without consulting one palace official who handled the princess' affairs and that another official representing the royal household oversaw his wife's taxes.

Cristina, sister of King Felipe VI, is the first Spanish royal to face criminal charges since the monarchy's 1975 restoration. The princess faces a possible eight-year sentence while Urdangarin faces nearly 20 years in prison if convicted.

Urdangarin's testimony coincided with that of fellow accused and former business partner Diego Torres, who told the court last week that the nonprofit Noos Institute he founded with Urdangarin presented its accounts for periodic approval to a palace lawyer as well as to tax inspectors.

The case centers on accusations that Urdangarin — a former Olympics handball star-turned-entrepreneur — used his former title of Duke of Palma to embezzle about 6 million euros ($6.6 million) in public contracts awarded the institute for sports events from 2004 to 2007.

One of the companies that allegedly benefited from Noos was Aizoon, a real estate firm that Urdangarin owned with Cristina, which has been labeled a "front company" in court documents.

Earlier, Urdangarin told the court he had nothing to do with Noos' billing of other companies, saying, "that was not my job." In his first day of testimony on Friday, Urdangarin said he wasn't aware of or couldn't recall many of the issues he was questioned about.

Another defendant is testifying after Urdangarin before Cristina, who faces two charges of tax fraud, takes the stand.


This story has been corrected to show the number of people on trial is 17, not 18.