MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s Princess Cristina told her tax fraud trial on Thursday she had no knowledge of financial matters and her husband handled all their accounts.
King Felipe’s 50-year-old sister, the first member of the royal family to stand in the dock, said she believed her husband Inaki Urdangarin was also innocent, in a case that has tapped into public anger over high-level corruption.
Cristina answered questions from her own lawyer for half an hour, refusing to answer those from a legal team representing the ‘Clean Hands’ anti-corruption organization which filed charges against the couple.
Prosecutors are looking into whether a charity Urdangarin ran, the Noos Foundation, embezzled millions of euros in public funds. They are also examining whether some of Noos’ money was transferred to a company co-owned by the princess and Urdangarin, Aizoon, and used to pay for family expenses.
Dressed simply in a black jacket and white blouse, a somber Cristina told the televised trial she had no role in the couple’s company, adding she simply signed papers when asked to without questioning how it was managed.
“My husband took care of all the financial dealings of the family and I would try and work out the family’s timetable,” Cristina said, adding that she fully trusted Urdangarin.
She told the courthouse in the Mediterranean island of Mallorca that she had no knowledge of financial or tax matters in general. The couple, who have four children, deny any wrongdoing in the case.
Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball player, is accused of nine crimes including fraud and tax evasion and could face up to 19 and half years in jail if found guilty.
Cristina is charged with two counts of being an accessory to tax fraud and could face up to eight years in prison.
The couple have said Aizoon was set up to channel Urdangarin’s earnings and that the company also had income from real estate holdings, denying any knowledge that it might have been used as a shell company.
Earlier on Thursday Urdangarin conceded that personal expenses had been billed to Aizoon. Among the bills shown in court was one for a safari trip that cost more than 15,000 euros ($16,438), along with wine bills for more than 1,000 euros.
There was also a coaching course for Cristina worth more than 6,000 euros.
“I was not aware of committing any fiscal crime or of any wrongdoing because I have always been advised and my advisers always told me that I was doing the right thing,” Urdangarin said.
He also defended his wife, saying: “With four small children, we tried not to talk about work matters.”
The princess is now not due to reappear in court until the end of the trial. Other witness testimonies and interventions are expected to run until June.
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Reporting by Sarah White, María Vega Paúl, Jesús Aguado; Editing by Andrew Heavens