Shadow of corruption scandal looms over Spanish royal family


In this Feb. 26, 2012, file photo, Inaki Urdangarin, Duke of Palma and the Spanish King’s son-in-law, arrives at the courthouse of Palma de Mallorca on the Mediterranean resort island of Mallorca, Spain. He will be questioned Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, by a judge investigating a corruption case as press reports make new revelations that cast a growing shadow on the entire royal family. AP/MANU MIELNIEZUK

MADRID—Spanish King Juan Carlos’ son-in-law will be questioned Saturday by a judge investigating a corruption case as press reports make new revelations that cast a growing shadow on the entire royal family.

Inaki Urdangarin and former partner Diego Torres are suspected of syphoning off millions of euros paid by regional governments to the Noos Institute, a charitable organization which Urdangarin chaired from 2004 to 2006.

The money was meant to cover the cost of staging sporting and tourism events.

Both men have denied any wrongdoing and have not been charged with any crime.

Spain’s two main daily newspapers, El Pais and El Mundo, on Monday published e-mails supposedly sent by Urdangarin, which appear to indicate that the king backed and closely followed his business career closely.

The revelations are embarrassing for the royal palace, which has tried to mark a clear border between Urdangarin’s business affairs and the royal family, especially Urdangarin’s wife, Princess Cristina, since the scandal erupted at the end of 2011.

Princess Cristina was a non-executive director at the Noos Institute but has not been called to appear in court for questioning.

In one of the e-mails allegedly sent by Urdangarin in March 2005 published Monday, he wrote to Corinna Wittgenstein, a twice-divorced German aristocrat described by Spanish media as a close friend of the king, to ask for her help in landing him a job at an international sports organization.

“Excuse my silence during these last few days. I wanted to check with my father-in-law and Alberto Aza as well before I give you feedback,” he allegedly wrote in the e-mail in a reference to the king and the former head of the royal household.

During a court appearance on Saturday, Torres told the judge leading the investigation that “the royal palace supervised the activities of the Noos Institute,” El Pais reported Sunday.

Torres also “directly called into question the king” by revealing that the monarch was referred to as “the boss” in internal discussions at the Noos Institute, the newspaper reported.

Torres’ defence team have turned over nearly 200 e-mails, including those published in Spanish media on Monday, to the investigating judge.

The royal family sidelined Urdangarin, who acquired the title of Duke of Palma in 1997 when he wed Cristina, from all official royal activities at the end of 2011 and last month he was removed from the family website.

The 45-year-old former Olympic handball player was jeered in February last year when he appeared in court to be questioned for the first time as part of the probe.

He will be grilled again at the court in Palma on Saturday, the same day that Carlos Garcia Revenga, secretary to the king’s daughters Elena and Cristina, is set to be questioned in the case.

Revenga will be questioned about his role at the Noos Institute and “his possible work as an advisor” to Urdangarin, the court source said.

The palace has said it would keep Garcia in his post and would take no action until he goes before the judge.

Earlier this month the court said it would begin freezing assets belonging to Urdangarin and his former business partner after they missed a deadline to pay bail of 8.2 million euros ($11.1 million).

Since the bail was applied in a civil case the two will not go to jail for not paying the sum.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • J

    Besides que-sierra-sierra, maniana habit and mid-day nap Corruption is one of the bad influence Spain left us after occupying PH more than 300 years. Corruption was engrained on pinoys blood to the bones.
    This “C” is concentrated to many politukus of today and did pass and execute the practice excellently within their families.

    • PinayArtistinBoston

      Same with Spain’s other colonies – Mexico and other Latin American countries.

      • sanjuan683

         hehehe nuon ganun ang paniniwala ko pero iba na ngayon lahat ng bansa may corruption hindi lang Mexico and other Latin America.

  • efriend

    It is crystal clear where some Filipinos got the “corruption blood” in them.

    • sanjuan683

      hehehehehe Unggoy lahat ng bansa may corruption maliiit man o malaki, corruption din iyon. Likas sa tao ang maging makasalanan grado-grado lang naman. Mag-aral ka ng history lahat ng bansa sa mundo may corruption, marahil hindi mo lang nalalaman dahil nadaig ka ng mga publicity ng media na sinisiraan ang bansa Pinas. Sa Japan mayroon din, ano resulta nagpapakamatay sila kapag nabuking na. Dito sa bansa natin kapag nabuking na ang corruption lalo kumakapal ang mukha tingnan mo si Erap isang dakilang plunderer hayun kinakapalan ang mukha at kumankandido pa sa Manila? hehehehe ano klase tao yan, tao ba yan o hayup?

  • MnlaBoy

    Blah. Stop blaming them. We are accountable for our own institutions.
    India, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Russia etc. all have pervasive corruption in their political systems. Should we blame the Brits, Dutch and French?

    Even the United States have cases of corruption – political and corporate. Should we blame them too?

    • sanjuan683

      Sa webster Dictionary na gawa ng mga amerikano, malinaw na may corruption din sa kanila bansa. Kaya huag nila apihin ang bansa Pinas na may laganap ng corruption at huag sila magmalinis, malalaking ang corruption sa bansa America. Kaya hoy kayo mga Pinoy huag ninyo hamakin ang bansa Pinas at pinagmamalaki ninyo ang bansa US, na malinis at free corruption, mga unggoy kayo, huag kayo babalik sa Pinas diyan na nalang kayo mamatay sa US.

  • JuanTamadachi


  • el toro bumingo

    Spain’s legacy in the Philippines — Catholicism and corruption :)

  • opinyonlangpo

    Theres lot of it in the Philippines. Its normal.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos