Former Spanish king announces he’s leaving country after Saudi rail corruption scandal explodes
Juan Carlos, the former king of Spain, is high-tailing it out of the country after the Supreme Court began probing an alleged $100 million in kickbacks he reportedly received from a Saudi high-speed rail contract.
The 82-year-old former monarch told his son, King Felipe VI, he was leaving Spain, according to a statement released by the royal house on Monday. While Carlos has declined repeatedly to comment on the scandal, which triggered a Supreme Court investigation in June, the allegations are believed to be the reason he is leaving.
The court began looking into the former king’s involvement with a contract for a high-speed rail line from Mecca to Medina in Saudi Arabia in June, months after the Swiss La Tribune de Geneve paper reported that Swiss public prosecutors were investigating a $100 million Swiss bank account in the name of a Panamanian foundation whose sole beneficiary was Carlos. While the money was supposedly a gift to the foundation from now-deceased Saudi King Abdullah, the Geneva court suspected “aggravated money laundering” – that the funds were connected to a Spanish consortium receiving the €6.7 billion contract to construct the rail line. Carlos only added to the suspicion by liquidating the foundation in 2012 and transferring the funds to his former mistress, Corinne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein.
Carlos was King of Spain for nearly 39 years, abdicating the throne in June 2014 to be succeeded by his son. When he stepped down, he lost his immunity from prosecution, though he cannot be prosecuted for crimes committed before the abdication. The current probe is not his first brush with a corruption investigation – Carlos has been accused of money-laundering before, and zu Sayn-Wittgenstein was once infamously caught on tape lamenting “The king has no concept of what is legal and what isn’t.”