King of Spain's brother-in-law sentenced to almost 6 years in jail
Verdict review of corruption case lowers punishment by 5 months for Urdangarin, who might still appeal to Constitutional Court
The King of Spain’s brother-in-law has been sentenced to jail for corruption in the so-called ‘Nóos’ case –again. The Spanish Supreme Court found Iñaki Urdangarin guilty of misuse of public funds, breach of official duty, fraud against the administration, two fiscal crimes and influence peddling, ruling he be sent to prison for 5 years and 10 months. This is five months less than the sentence ordered by a Mallorca court in February 2017, but in this case it is the final judgement.
Yet Urdangarin might delay his entry to prison by asking for a reprieve or appealing to the Constitutional Court. This possibility, though, is unlikely, as the court does not usually postpone imprisonments for sentences higher than 5 years while deliberating on appeals. His partner in this corruption scheme, Diego Torres, saw his sentence lowered from 8 years and a half to 5 years and 8 months. King Felipe’s sister Cristina, wife of Urdangarin, benefited from the fraud, according to the judge, with 136,000 euros. Her husband will have to pay for it.
Urdangarin links with Catalonia
If Urdangarin, linked for years with Barcelona and Catalonia, does go to prison, he will become the first relative of a Spanish monarch to be jailed for corruption.
As a former professional handball player, Urdangarin spent 14 seasons playing for FC Barcelona (1986-2000) and living in the Catalan capital. While still playing, in 1997 he married Infanta Cristina, the daughter of the then Spanish King Juan Carlos. The wedding ceremony was held in Barcelona and the couple went on living in the city until 2009.
Condemned for fraud
For some years in the 2000s he was in charge of Instituto Nóos, a firm which used to organize mainly sports events –but which also produced reports, among others things– for public administrations.
Urdangarin was accused of winning public contracts for Instituto Nóos in the Valencia area and in the Balearic Islands by taking advantage of his status as the king’s relative. He was also charged over suspicion of embezzling funds from these contracts to avoid paying taxes in Spain through a network of offshore companies. As the allegations were made public, the then King Juan Carlos steadily distanced the Royal Family from Urdangarin and his wife –the then monarch’s daughter.
Stripped of dukedom
Upon the king’s abdication, Felipe VI took the throne and in 2015 stripped his sister and brother-in-law of their titles as Dukes of Palma de Mallorca. Last year, after sentencing Urdangarin to six years in jail, the Mallorca court allowed him to avoid prison while awaiting a final judgment by the Supreme Court. The couple were allowed to leave Spain and moved to Geneva, Switzerland. At the same time, some Catalan leaders in pre-trial jail over the independence case have been denied release due to their “risk of fleeing.”