Swiss deposit case linked to Saudi funds for ex-king of Spain

GENEVA (AP) – Geneva prosecutors fined a Swiss bank for failing to alert money laundering authorities to a portion of more than $ 100 million from Saudi Arabia which went to former Spanish king Juan Carlos and his ex-lover, but dropped possible charges against him. partners in the case.

The Geneva prosecutor’s office, in a statement on Monday, said it had partially abandoned an investigation opened three years ago against five people for alleged money laundering, while ruling that the Mirabaud bank had not communicated properly with the Swiss office money laundering.

The Swiss investigation was triggered after reports in the Spanish media about possible illegal payments benefiting the king in the award of public contracts to Spanish companies – funds that could have been hidden in Swiss banks. Some of the payments were believed to be linked to commissions on a high-speed train project from Medina to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Juan Carlos, 83, was not among the five people investigated in this investigation.

Investigators discovered that Juan Carlos received on August 1, 2008 – before he left office as king – through a foundation known as Lucum, the sum of $ 100 million from the Saudi ministry. of Finance, the prosecutor’s office said. It also reported additional millions received by the King or his former lover Corinna Larsen, a Danish-German businesswoman.

“My innocence was evident at first and this episode served to harm me further as part of the ongoing campaign of abuse against me by certain Spanish interests,” said Larsen, who identifies as Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein. “The main criminals, meanwhile, have not been investigated and have had time to cover up their activities. They remain irresponsible.

The prosecution said the use of a foundation to raise the funds “showed a willingness” to hide the funds, but “the investigation was nevertheless unable to establish a sufficient link between the amount received from Saudi Arabia and the conclusion of contracts for the construction of the high-speed train.

He ordered Mirabaud to pay a fine and legal fees totaling 200,000 Swiss francs ($ 217,000) for his failure to alert the money laundering office to Larsen’s personal account.

In a statement, the bank said the decision “amounted to an outright acquittal, confirming that no money laundering offense had been committed by the bank” and “ended the unfounded charges against it.” .

Mirabaud said he “takes note” of the administrative fine, saying it was linked to a “suspected breach of an obligation” to report to the Swiss money laundering office a single transaction that took place. held nine years ago and was unrelated to Juan Carlos.

Spain’s Supreme Court prosecutors are still investigating alleged bribes in the Saudi high-speed train contract, the former king’s alleged funds in tax havens and possible fraud to tax authorities.

Juan Carlos has reportedly been living in the United Arab Emirates since mid-2020, when allegations of financial scandals swirled around him and embarrassed the royal household.

His son, Felipe VI, ascended to the throne of Spain after the abdication of Juan Carlos in 2014, and has since distanced himself from his father.

Spanish media say the payment was made in hopes of ending this investigation before he returns home, but prosecutors say the investigation is continuing.

Juan Carlos is ranked # 9 richest royals in the world by CEOWorld magazine. Felipe VI removed it from the palace payroll.


Associated Press writer Aritz Parra contributed to this report from Madrid.

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