Spain’s former king Juan Carlos has fled to a luxury resort in the Dominican Republic amid a corruption scandal, according to reports.
The 82-year-old left the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid on Sunday and spent the night in Sanxenxo, a small town on Spain’s Atlantic Coast where he had often attended sailing events, La Vanguardia newspaper reported.
He travelled by car the following morning to Porto from where he took a private jet to the Dominican Republic.
Spain’s former king ‘leaves country’
The former monarch reportedly plans to spend his first few weeks of exile at a luxury villa at Casa de Campo, an exclusive golf course and resort on the Caribbean island.
Juan Carlos said that he had chosen to leave the country in a letter to his son, King Felipe, published on the Spanish royal family’s website.
He said that he made the decision because of “public repercussions that certain past events in my private life are generating”.
Prosecutors in Switzerland are investigating whether financial transactions linked to Juan Carlos had any bearing on Saudi Arabia awarding a lucrative multi-billion-dollar deal to Spanish companies to build a high-speed railway in the kingdom in 2011.
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In March this year, Switzerland’s La Tribune de Geneve newspaper reported that the former monarch received $100m (£75m) from the late Saudi King Abdullah in 2008.
Juan Carlos allegedly then transferred €65m (£75m) to his former companion, the German businesswoman Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein.
Image: 2007: Investigators are looking into an alleged payment from the late Saudi King Abdullah (right) and Juan Carlos (left)
Spain’s supreme court has also opened an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the Saudi deal, and whether the former king can be investigated for any dealings after 2014, when he lost his immunity from prosecution after his abdication.
Juan Carlos’s lawyer, Javier Sanchez-Junco, said that the former king would “remain at the disposal of the prosecutors’ office”, despite his decision to flee Spain.
The flurry of allegations against the former king has tarnished his legacy and eroded public confidence in the monarchy.
Image: Public confidence in the monarchy has eroded recently
Deputy prime minister Pablo Iglesias, leader of the far-left Podemos party in the ruling coalition, said that Juan Carlos’s decision to flee was “an act unworthy of a former head of state”.
Juan Carlos came to the throne in 1975 after the death of General Francisco Franco and was widely praised for his role in helping guide Spain from dictatorship to democracy.
For years he was a national hero, but a number of scandals later in his reign culminated in his decision to step aside and allow his son Felipe to become king in 2014.
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Two years earlier, Juan Carlos was forced to make a public apology after it emerged he took a luxury elephant-hunting trip to Botswana while the country was in the grip of a severe recession. The trip only became public knowledge after the king fell and broke his hip.
The current king has taken steps to distance himself from the scandals embroiling his father. In March, Felipe renounced his own inheritance and stripped Juan Carlos of his palace allowance after the corruption allegations surfaced.
Source : Sky News