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Princess Accused of Tax Fraud Will Be the First Royal to Stand Trial in Modern Spain

Cristina de Borbón — the sister of Spain's King Felipe VI — is accused of tax fraud as part of a case that sees her husband accused of embezzling millions in public funds.
Photo by AP/Manu Fernandez

Spain's Princess Cristina was today ordered to face a judge as a tax fraud trial in which she and her husband stand accused kicked off in Majorca, in the Balearic Islands.

Cristina de Borbón — the 49-year-old sister of Spain's King Felipe VI — is accused of two tax crimes in conjunction with her husband's business dealings. Her husband, former Olympic handball player Iñaki Urdangarin, is accused of embezzling millions in public funds, as well as fraud, influence-peddling, and money-laundering.


On Monday, the presiding judge in the case, Jose Castro, ordered Cristina to appear in court, despite an earlier recommendation by a prosecutor in the case, which suggested trying her husband but only fining her.

The hearing itself is expected to take place in the second half of 2015, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported.

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The accusations relate to dealings Urdangarin and his business partner Diego Torres made in 2007-08, when they allegedly used their sports non-profit organization — the Noos Foundation — to organize events for Spanish regional governments, including in the Balearic Islands, at massively inflated prices.

As much as 5.6 million euros ($7.5 million) of public money allegedly went missing from the foundation when Urdangarin was in charge of it. The couple is accused of misappropriating funds to cover costs at their Barcelona home, among other things, with Cristina specifically held responsible for 2.6 million euros.

The princess and her husband, who deny any wrongdoing, were ordered to appear in court with 15 others. The couple were also ordered to deposit funds — she 2.6 million euros and he almost 15 — to cover any possible liabilities.

The scandal, which came at a time of severe economic crisis in Spain, has already helped cost Princess Cristina's father his throne: King Juan Carlos abdicated last June in favor of his son, following investigations and public outcry into Cristina and her husband's financial affairs.


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These allegations have severely damaged the image of the monarchy. The new king was able to partially restore that by promising to modernize the monarchy and officially removing his two sisters from royal duties and rights.

Cristina, who is the sixth in line to the throne, will be the first Spanish royal to face trial since the monarchy was restored after the death of Franco's death, in 1975.

Prosecutors in the case had asked for up to eight years in prison for the princess. Her husband faces up to 20.

Follow Alice Speri on Twitter: @alicesperi