Geneva (AFP) – Geneva prosecutors have fined a Swiss bank for failing to alert money-laundering authorities of at least $100 million from Saudi Arabia that could have fallen into the hands of Spain’s honorary King Juan Carlos and his former lover. On the other hand, they dropped the possible charges against the King’s associates in the case.
In a statement on Monday, the Geneva Prosecutor’s Office said it was partly abandoning an investigation it opened three years ago with five people for money laundering, specifying that Mirabudd Bank did not properly communicate with the Swiss money laundering office.
The Swiss investigation began after the Spanish press published reports of possible illegal payments that the king had used to award public contracts to Spanish companies, money that would have been hidden in Swiss banks. It is suspected that some of these payments are linked to commissions on a high-speed rail project from Medina to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Juan Carlos, 83, was not among the five investigated in this investigation.
The attorney general’s office said investigators discovered that on August 1, 2008, Juan Carlos received – before he abdicated – through a foundation known as Locom $100 million from the Saudi Ministry of Finance. It also turned out that the king or his ex-lover Corinna Larsen, a Danish-German businesswoman, got more money.
“My innocence was clear from the start, and this episode helped harm me as part of a campaign of abuse against me by certain Hispanic interests,” said Larsen, who identifies as Corina zu Sayn Wittgenstein. Meanwhile, the main criminals were not investigated and were given time to conceal their activities. They remain unaccountable.”
The prosecution said that using an institution to receive funds “showed a desire” to hide those resources, but that “the investigation, however, did not sufficiently prove any link between the amount received from Saudi Arabia and the contracts for the construction of a high-speed train.”
Swiss authorities have ordered Mirabaud to pay a fine plus legal fees totaling 200,000 Swiss francs ($217,000) for failing to alert the money laundering office about Larsen’s personal account.
The bank said in a statement that the decision “is equivalent to an absolute acquittal, stressing that the bank has not committed any money laundering crime” and “puts an end to the baseless accusations.”
Spain’s Supreme Court is still investigating alleged bribery in a Saudi express train contract, alleged money to the honorary king in tax havens and possible fraud by tax authorities.
According to press reports, Juan Carlos has been living in the United Arab Emirates since mid-2020, when allegations of financial scandals surrounded him and embarrassed the royal family.
His son, Felipe VI, ascended the Spanish throne after his father abdicated the throne in 2014, and has distanced himself from him ever since.
Aritz Parra contributed to this report from Madrid.
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