Spain’s supreme court probes role of former king in Saudi deal

Spain’s supreme court prosecutor has opened an investigation into former King Juan Carlos in connection with a high-speed train contract in Saudi Arabia, piling pressure on a once-popular monarch who abdicated six years ago. The supreme court prosecutor will investigate whether the former king can be included in the case in respect of any action.

Prosecutors in Spain’s highest court are investigating whether former King Juan Carlos received millions of dollars in kickbacks from Saudi Arabia during the construction of a high speed railway there by a Spanish consortium.

A Monday statement from the general prosecutor’s office called the probe one of “undeniable technical complexity.”

The Supreme Court investigation will center on developments after mid-2014. That covers the second phase of the 2011 contract for the bullet train between the Saudi cities of Medina and Mecca — the so-called “AVE of the desert” in reference to the acronym for high-speed trains in Spain.

The date marks the moment when Juan Carlos, marred by several scandals, passed on the throne to his son, who became King Felipe VI. By abdicating after nearly four decades on the throne, Juan Carlos lost the protection granted by Spain’s constitution to the head of state.

The prosecutor‘s statement said that given the “institutional significance,” the investigation would be charged to one of the Supreme Court’s chief prosecutors and three assistants.

Although Juan Carlos‘ finances have been questioned in Spanish media for years, there have so far been zero legal implications for the king emeritus. Spanish lawmakers have rejected at least two proposals since the first allegations emerged to open parliamentary investigations.

Swiss prosecutors are also investigating an account operated for Juan Carlos to which millions were allegedly transferred by Saudi Arabia‘s late King Abdullah. In March, King Felipe VI renounced any future inheritance from his father after Britain‘s The Telegraph newspaper reported earlier this year that the current monarch had been named as beneficiary for some of that money.

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