Spain's Princess Cristina charged with tax fraud, money-laundering

Tue Jan 7, 2014 9:04am EST
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By Fiona Ortiz and Rodrigo De Miguel

MADRID (Reuters) - Princess Cristina, the younger daughter of Spain's King Juan Carlos, has been charged with tax fraud and money-laundering, piling further scandal on the once-beloved but increasingly unpopular royal family.

Palma de Mallorca Examining Magistrate Jose Castro said in a 200-page ruling after a lengthy investigation that there was evidence that Cristina, 48, had committed crimes.

He summoned her to appear in court on March 8, possibly paving the way for an unprecedented trial of a Spanish royal.

The princess's defense lawyer, Miguel Roca, told Spanish television he would appeal the summons, saying "I am absolutely convinced of her innocence".

Her husband, former Olympic handball player Inaki Urdangarin, was earlier charged with fraud, tax evasion, falsifying documents and embezzlement of 6 million euros ($8 million) in public funds through his charitable foundation, which put on sports business conferences in Mallorca and elsewhere in Spain. Urdangarin has denied any wrongdoing.

The case is one of many high-level corruption scandals in Spain that have undermined faith in public institutions at a time of economic crisis marked by deep cuts in public spending.

Opinion of the royal family in particular has sunk to its lowest level ever.

A Sigma Dos poll published on Sunday showed almost two thirds of Spaniards want King Juan Carlos to abdicate after 38 years on the throne and hand over to Prince Felipe, who is still well regarded and is not implicated in his sister's case.   Continued...

Spain's Princess Infanta Cristina (C) smiles she visits Den Do temple in Bac Ninh province near Hanoi November 20, 2009. REUTERS/Kham