Spain′s ex-king Juan Carlos leaves country amid suspicions of bribery from Saudi Arabia | News | DW | 03.08.2020
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Spain's ex-king Juan Carlos leaves country amid suspicions of bribery from Saudi Arabia

As Spain investigates former king Juan Carlos I for alleged money laundering, the retired monarch has decided to move out of the country. In his letter, he says he had "always wanted the best for Spain and the Crown."

Juan Carlos I, who was Spain's monarch for nearly 40 years, has made a "considered decision" to leave the country, according to a letter published by the Palace on Monday.

The move comes less than two months after Supreme Court prosecutors opened a money-laundering probe against the former monarch following reports that he had taken over $100 million (€85 million) from Saudi Arabia.

The former king makes no reference to the probe in the letter addressed to his son, King Felipe VI. The decision to move was "guided by the conviction of rendering the best service to the Spanish people, to their institutions and to you as a king," said the 82-year-old royal.

"I have been King of Spain for almost forty years and, during all of them, I have always wanted the best for Spain and for the Crown," Juan Carlos said.

Palace officials said Felipe VI expressed "his heartfelt respect and gratitude" to his father in response to his decision. It was not immediately clear where the ex-king will be traveling to and when was he set to leave Spain.

Stripped of palace allowance

Juan Carlos I took the throne two days after Spain's dictator Francisco Franco died in 1975, and is credited with helping Spain's transition to democracy. While remaining a popular figure for most of his rule, his public image took a hit after a lavish vacation in Botswana as Spain was struggling with a financial crisis in 2012. 

In 2014, Juan Carlos I abdicated in favor of his son Felipe, saying he was aiming for "a drive for renewal, to overcome and correct mistakes and open the way to a decidedly better future."

At the time, the royal family was struggling with a scandal involving Juan Carlos' daughter and Felipe's sister, Princess Cristina, who had been accused of financial wrongdoing alongside her husband Inaki Urdangarin. While a court eventually found Cristina not guilty, King Felipe VI stripped her of her duchess title in 2015.

Earlier this year, the king stripped his father of his palace allowance and renounced the inheritance he was due to receive from him after reports of a Swiss probe started to surface. The royal house has denied Felipe had any knowledge of alleged financial wrongdoings.

Deputy PM: Fleeing 'unworthy' of former king

The move was decried by Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias from the far-left Podemos party, who said the royal needed to be held accountable before his own people.

"Juan Carlos de Borbon's flight abroad is an act unworthy of a former head of state and it leaves the monarchy in a very compromised position," he posted on social media.

He added that a "democratic government cannot look the other way, much less justify or welcome" acts that undermine the dignity of institutions such as the head of state.

dj/msh (AP, EFE)